Former governor Terry McAuliffe, who is running for the job again, is spending Tuesday in Loudoun, with a focus on veterans’ needs.
McAuliffe began the day attending Eid Prayer marking the completion of Hajj, the traditional Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, a holy city to Muslims. He followed up an event at the Leesburg Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1177, timed to coincide with the rollout of endorsements from more than 150 veterans, followed by a visit to the newest HeroHomes project in Purcellville.
In Loudoun, those endorsements include Del. David A. Reid (D-32) and Sen. John J. Bell (D-13).
McAuliffe on his stop July 20 to the VFW highlighted his administration’s work for veterans during his previous term, citing accomplishments such as opening new veteran care centers to help people struggling with long waits at the Veterans Administration, and being the first state to functionally end veteran homelessness, meaning a community never counts more homeless vets than it has shown capacity to house in a month. Virginia remains only one of three states to meet that metric, according to the VA.
And, he said, part of the state’s success in attracting businesses is the unusually high number of veterans living here.
“I want every veteran when they move to veteran status to stay here in in Virginia,” McAuliffe said. “You can’t have a more dedicated or hardworking workforce than a veteran. They’re disciplined, they show up on time, they’re honest.”
That visit was followed by a trip to Purcellville, where Army veteran, poet and visual artist Vainuupo Avegalio, known as A.V., told McAuliffe about his struggles with homelessness and PTSD, and his work to help other veterans through art and poetry workshops. Avegalio’s is the fourth and most recent home completed by HeroHomes, a nonprofit building homes for veterans with payments that they can afford. Costs are dramatically reduced as area contracting partners donate supplies and labor.
“As a veteran myself, we don’t like asking for help. We just want to do things on our own, and because we don’t ask if it feels like we get stuck in a hole,” Avegalio said. “And so it is harder and harder. We dig ourselves in deeper holes.”
McAuliffe was also on hand for the presentation of a resolution introduced by Bell and passed by the General Assembly this year honoring HeroHomes and founders Matt Lowers and Jason Brownell for their work. Another HeroHomes project is already underway near Round Hill.
At the VFW and in Avegalio’s living room, McAuliffe gathered input from veterans on what the state can do for them going forward.
Although his Republican rival Glenn Youngkin has stumped in Loudoun several times, it is McAuliffe’s first stop in Loudoun in this campaign.