Alexandria Chamber of Commerce chair-elect Gin Kinneman, Chamber CEO Joe Haggerty, Deputy Ernesto Arroyo, Sergeant Waraphan Srikongyos, retired firefighter Callie Terrell and USAF Maj. Gen. Mark K. Johnson at the Salute to Veterans Awards Nov. 8 at Mount Vernon Estate.
Photo by Jeanne Theismann.
“Nothing is more precious to this nation than our veterans, who have secured our liberties.” — Maj. General Mark Johnson
The value of veterans in the workforce was the focus of remarks by Air Force Major General Mark K. Johnson as the Chamber of Commerce presented its Salute to Veterans Awards Nov. 8 at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington on the grounds of Mount Vernon Estate.
“Nothing is more precious to this nation than our veterans, who have secured our liberties,” said Johnson, whose father was a West Point graduate killed in Vietnam. “We owe them a debt of gratitude and to show them their service is not forgotten or ignored.”
Johnson, director of DLA Logistics Operations, stressed the skills that veterans bring to a business as they transition from the military into the civilian workforce.
“Why should you hire a veteran?” Johnson asked. “Because they deliver results. Veterans bring a variety of skills and perspective to your team and they have the discipline, drive and motivation to accomplish the task in front of them.”
Sponsored by the National Industries For the Blind, the event presented awards in three categories: Small Veteran Owned Business of the Year – Patriot Strategies LLC, a service disabled veteran owned business founded by former Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. Greg Gadson (ret.) and fellow West Point graduate Kurt Gutierrez; Large Veteran Owned Business of the Year – Long & Foster, founded by Army veteran Wes Foster; Hiring and Empowering Veterans — the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, where nearly one-third of the deputies are military veterans or reservists in the Armed Forces.
“I come from a family of 15, with eight retired military,” said Deputy Ernesto Arroyo, who accepted the award with Sergeant Waraphan Srikongyos. “I want to thank Sheriff Lawhorne for giving veterans a chance to show what they have learned in the military.”
“My father’s generation did not always receive the thanks that was due to them,” Johnson said. “We cannot forget those warriors as we stand on the shoulders of those who served to protect this great nation.”