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On Thursday, the Smithfield Foundation presented this check to the Virginia Veterans Services Foundation.

We have written before about Virginia’s deep commitment to its veterans. The commonwealth’s leadership — current and past administrations alike — has continued to diligently ensure that the Old Dominion offers a full range of benefits and support services to those who have served our nation in uniform. As a result, Virginia is consistently ranked in the top tier of veteran-friendly states.

But it isn’t just state agencies that make the commonwealth so hospitable to former service members. Patriotic citizens, private groups and businesses contribute enormous amounts of time and money to help support veterans programs and outreach efforts.

One such organization is Smithfield Foods Inc. On Thursday, The Smithfield Foundation donated $150,000 to support state programs for homeless veterans. Gov. Ralph Northam accepted the check from Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods, on behalf of the Virginia Veterans Services Foundation (VVSF). The Virginia-based food company is committed to supporting military families and veterans. Besides financial support, Smithfield has hired more than 1,700 veterans and hopes to employ 4,000 by 2020.

Smithfield’s generous contribution went to a worthy recipient. The VVSF is a corporate agency of the commonwealth established to provide support to veterans and their families. The agency administers the Veterans Services Fund, created in 2016 to provide one-time gap assistance to homeless veterans and to those who might be in danger of becoming homeless. Every penny of contributions made to the organization goes to veterans in need of assistance. Thanks to the generosity of private-sector Virginians, the Veterans Services Fund has assisted more than 700 homeless veterans by providing emergency resources.

By and large, veterans are an asset to any community. They vote, they volunteer, they give back and they are civically engaged. They make well-educated, well-trained and reliable workers. Upon their return to civilian life, most hit the ground running. But, as Sullivan noted Thursday, should a vet need assistance, rest assured he’d much prefer to be offered a hand up rather than a handout.

— Robin Beres

(Disclosure: Robin Beres serves on the Virginia Veterans Services Foundation’s Board of Trustees)

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