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Posted June 20, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Veterans conference focuses on job skills

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

Dozens of area veterans were at Lord Fairfax Community College Wednesday hoping to hone their civilian employment skills.

The day-long conference was sponsored by the Lord Fairfax Small Business Development Center, the Virginia Employment Commission, Mike Guevremont of Executive Protection Systems, the Virginia Workforce Center and Navy Federal Credit Union.

Various businesses, veteran aid organizations and government agencies were in the Corron Community Development Center to share how they could help former members of the military. Attendees could participate in seminars covering what employers want, interview skills, business registration, job training and more.

Bill Sirbaugh, the executive director of the SBDC, said last week the conference was aimed at vets considering starting a small business or who already owned one and would like further assistance, vets hoping to gain employment and for businesses who wanted to learn about incentives available for hiring veterans.

"There's a wide variety, between younger vets who just got out of the military, to some senior vets that are literally seniors that are still looking for jobs," SBDC marketing counselor Dale Maza said at the conference. "We're trying to give them some of the tools that they need...to help them navigate the process with resumes and how to interview and what are companies really looking for."

Skip Rogers, co-founder and executive director of Front Royal-based Able Forces, said the veteran-owned nonprofit employs and trains wounded warriors and disabled veterans.

"My guys, they're all beat up," he said.

But, they include intelligence analysts, system administrators, network administrators and subject matter experts in weapons systems working with some of Able Forces' nine federal contractors, according to Rogers.

Linda Roseboro, director of marketing events for the Disabled Veterans Committee on Housing in Winchester, was at the campus to reach out to veterans who are disabled and could use her group's help in networking with contractors, financial institutions, and other service providers.

Her group also helps direct wounded vets to counseling and other services.

"We're not the only ones," Roseboro said. "There are lots of other organizations that are out there and we all work together as one to help the vet."

Veteran Ross Berry praised the event.

"This is a wonderful resource," he said. "This is very encouraging, really gives you motivation to try to start over. I'm very hopeful."

Berry spent four years in the Navy in the 1980s, and has been through several layoffs.
"I'm sort of a homeless veteran," he said.

After living in Front Royal and in Martinsburg through a homeless veteran program, "now I'm living in a dump in Sterling" with numerous other people, Berry said.

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