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Foods donation supporting veteran employment

The Hampton Roads Workforce Council will use a $300,000 donation from Smithfield Foods to support a new veterans employment center in Newport News. The center will provide outgoing service members and their spouses with coaching and support to re-enter civilian life.

The donation will support workforce services such as on-site hiring support, office consultations with career counselors and direct access to employment opportunities across the region, including open positions at Smithfield Foods, the company said in a December announcement.

“We are so thankful to Smithfield Foods for this major grant,” Shawn Avery, the workforce council’s president, said in the announcement. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with a world-class, Virginia-based organization that maintains a deep understanding of the importance of supporting American veterans. The advancement of this program will allow us to provide veterans and military spouses the resources needed to successfully transition to civilian life and achieve their career goals.”

Smithfield Foods said it employs more than 1,800 veterans across the company’s U.S. facilities. The company was recognized as a “Best for Vets” employer for 2020 by the Military Times newspaper for the second consecutive year. The ranking recognizes companies for their efforts to recruit and support service members, veterans and military family members.

“As an American food company, we believe in supporting the men and women who have served our country and are confident that this center will provide incredible opportunities for military veterans and their spouses,” said Keira Lombardo, chief administrative officer at Smithfield Foods. “Beyond our funding, we look forward to partnering with the center to share employment opportunities at Smithfield with veterans in our area to help them make the transition from military to civilian life.”

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell also supported development of the veterans’ employment center.

“As a veteran, I know the challenges these men and women can encounter when transitioning to civilian life,” McDonnell said. “The resources provided by Smithfield’s very generous donation will go a long way toward reducing those hurdles for thousands of veterans right here in Hampton Roads.”