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Dressed in blue khaki uniforms, the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office Academy class marched in unison into the training building. While they’re brand new recruits, they look sharp, and comfortable, almost like they’ve done this before. In a sense, many of them have. Out of a class of 23, nine of them are U.S. Veterans.

Deputy Recruits Anthony Horn and Royce Mader both served in the Marine Corps doing multiple combat tours. When Deputy Recruit Kendall Prunty was getting out of the Air Force, his Supervisor in the military told him to apply at the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office. What might seem like a random tip about a job was actually the result of efforts by our Norfolk Sheriff’s Office Human Resources team.

“I think the main thing is we are actively reaching out to let veterans know that we are there for them,” Norfolk Sheriff’s Office Human Resources Director Lt. Darrell Freeman said.

The hard work is being noticed; the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office has received the Governor’s award for hiring the most veterans for a large company in Virginia.

“We are extremely proud to have more than 170 veterans working for the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office. Approximately 40 percent of the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office are veterans. As a veteran myself, I know and understand the value of having veterans work within our organization. Veterans are already service oriented and their military background makes them a great fit for law enforcement,” Sheriff Bob McCabe said.

Governor Terry McAuliffe started the “Virginia Values Veterans (V3)” program to encourage employers throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia to hire veterans. The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office became a “V3” certified company, which means the Sheriff has committed to hiring dozens of veterans each year and reporting the hiring data to the Governor’s staff on a quarterly basis.

NSO Human Resources Secretary Anna Decker has worked diligently to build relationships with the Fleet and Family Support Centers of Hampton Roads. When NSO is hiring deputies, the jobs are posted on local military sites and the Virginia Employment Commission site, and if there is a military job fair, our staff is there.

The little things also matter. When job candidates come in for the first time, often it’s Decker who greets them and encourages them by sharing why she likes working at NSO.

“It’s my home away from home. I went to 8th grade with the Sheriff. It’s a wonderful organization, and I highly recommend if someone can come here, to stay,” Decker said.

Sheriff McCabe took the effort to recruit veterans one step further, getting U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs approval for the On-the-Job-Training and Apprenticeship program. His office went through an extensive process to develop a one-year curriculum for law enforcement training. This means veterans can use one year of their G.I. Bill while working at NSO, adding anywhere from $1,200 in additional pay to each month’s check.

“When they know that’s a possibility, if they don’t want to go to a traditional college they can do it here. I think most people are looking at the fact that we are veteran friendly,” Lt. Freeman said.

Lt. Freeman understands veterans because he grew up in a military family, with his Dad in the Navy, his brother in the Army, and younger brother and sister in the Air Force. Freeman was a US Airways manager responsible for hiring all airline employees, before he joined the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office. In order to understand how to explain the job to recruit deputies, Freeman went through the academy himself.

“I respect our training department and going through it myself gave me an edge. When I recruit these guys, I tell them you’ll have to do leg lifts in July in 90 degree weather. I was out there and I did it,” he said.

Deputy Recruits Frank Denicola and Seth Hodgson are there now, doing the academy while still serving in the reserves.

“All my supervisors here at the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office went above and beyond and ensured everything was taken care of for me to meet my Marine Corps reserves obligation,” Hodgson said.

The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office was the only law enforcement agency in Virginia to receive the Governor’s award for hiring the most veterans. Overall, it’s our consistency with recruiting efforts and our passion for finding the best people for the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office.

Often times those people are veterans because they already know how to follow direction and order, they’re used to the tough schedules and they’re always ready. Even as new recruits, veterans have a good idea of what to expect and how to rise to the top.

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