VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam made his first visit to Tidewater Community College for a good reason.
Virginia’s newest governor met with female veterans after he and the General Assembly in February declared the third week of March as Women Veterans Week in the commonwealth.
His visit on Friday concluded the inaugural observance with a roundtable at TCC’s Virginia Beach campus.
The Office of the Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs and TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education organized the event.
Gov. Northam said his administration will continue former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s efforts to improve veterans’ experiences in Virginia. He told the 13 members of the roundtable that “we have effectively ended veteran homelessness” and that more than 31,000 veterans have been hired through the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) program.
He also said that Virginia has the largest percentage of female veterans in the United States and that he wanted to hear about the panelists’ challenges.
The participants shared their struggles with the governor and brought up issues such as transitioning into civilian life after retirement, finding adequate child care and caring for mental health. The biggest complaints were directed toward veterans affairs centers, especially the one in Hampton.
“We shouldn’t have to call our senators and representatives to get help,” said one participant.
Gov. Northam agreed.
“Our veterans should be at the top of the queue, not the bottom,” he said. “I hear you. I don’t have the answers, but my administration and I are committed to working with the VA and finding solutions.”
Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine as well as Representatives Donald McEachin and Bobby Scott were among those in attendance.
“It was great to have Governor Northam here today so he could get a little taste of what we do at TCC,” said Veronica Cianetti, Army veteran and director of military student support at the CMVE.