The Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 13 honored companies, nonprofit groups and individuals for their service to veterans at the Distinguished Service Awards.
This year’s recipients in Veteran-Owned Businesses of the Year categories were:
• Emerging Business (in existence up to four years): Conforma. Other nominees in this category were Phalanx, The Critical Mass LLC, Virginia Technical Academy, Xenith Solutions and ZeroMils.
Conforma CEO Eduardo Ortiz accepted the award and accidentally knocked over some of the glass trophies on the table.
“I am a Marine,” Ortiz said as the audience began razzing him. “Thank you for the opportunity to wake you all up.”
• Maturing Business (in existence for five to 10 years): PingWind Inc. Other nominees included Commander’s Concepts Commissioning LLC, Encompass Supply, IronArch Technology and Qmulos.
• Established Business (in existence more than 10 years): Prescient Edge Corp. Other nominees included CATHEXIS, David T. Scott & Associates LLC, Government Tactical Solutions, HigherEchelon Inc. and Intelligent Waves.
There were two winners of the Veteran Employee of the Year Award: John Quackenbush of JHNA and Tyler Sweatt of SecondFront. Other nominees included Steven Slay of PingWind Inc., Stacey Tyson of B3 Solutions LLC and Ed Weinberg of Optum Serve.
The Veteran Service Organization of the Year Award went to Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund. Other nominees included Boulder Crest Foundation, National Veteran Small Business Coalition, George Washington Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA), Northern Virginia Veterans Association (NOVA Veterans) and Veterans Moving Forward Inc.
• Lifetime Achievement Award: W. Glenn Yarborough Jr., president and CEO of WGY & Associates LLC.
The event, held at Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, featured a keynote address by Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Craig Crenshaw, who emphasized the state’s mantra that “Virginia Values Veterans.”
Ongoing efforts to aid veterans include tax relief, a digital hub to help them understand available benefits and resources, and a study to streamline veterans’ ability to start their own companies, Crenshaw said.
“Small business makes the economy turn,” he said. “What you do is important.”
Virginia is home to about 720,000 residents with military experience, 155,000 of whom currently are on active duty. From the Pentagon and Quantico to the Norfolk naval base, “the readiness of our military resides in our commonwealth,” Crenshaw said.
A retired U.S. Marine Corps major general, Crenshaw noted that a placard just across the border in North Carolina identifies that state as the “Most Friendly Place for Veterans.”
“It doesn’t take much for a Virginian to flip that sign,” he said.