Author Archive

Virginia Veterans Care Center Benefits from Board Members’ COVID-19 Response

April 26, 2021

On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, Ms. Renee Tabb, the purchasing specialist at the Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center located on Broad Rock Blvd. in Richmond, VA, took delivery of 4 gallons of badly needed hand sanitizer, stating, “Our residents and staff will benefit directly from your generosity!” This was not just any sanitizer, however – this particular sanitizer was manufactured and donated by The Vanguard Brewpub and Distillery in Hampton VA, and its delivery was made possible by a few special people associated with the Virginia Board of Veterans Services (BVS), the Virginia War Memorial Foundation (VWMF) Board, and the former Virginia War Memorial (VWM) Board.

In response to Governor Northam’s Executive Order 51 regarding COVID-19, Virginia ABC issued an emergency order, authorizing Virginia distillers to manufacture and distribute alcohol-based sanitizer. The Vanguard President, Mr. Randy Thomas, jumped at the opportunity and began sourcing ingredients specified by the World Health Organization recipe. After finding reliable supplies of hydrogen peroxide and glycerin, sourcing other materials that could be distilled into purified alcohol became the challenge. That’s when BVS and VWMF Board member Kathy P. Owens sprang to action. Ms. Owens, also a partner at The Vanguard, reached out to fellow VWMF Board member Mr. Bob Archer, President of Blue Ridge Beverage Co., located in Salem, VA, with a request to acquire expired beer in order to distill it into alcohol for the sanitizer. Mr. Archer connected Ms. Owens with Mr. Ryland Thomas with Tri-Cities Beverage Co., located in Newport News, VA, who was quick to identify over 1,000 kegs of defective beer in his warehouse. Former VWM Board member and Virginia State Senator Bill DeSteph was instrumental in working with Virginia ABC officials for an accelerated approval of the transfer and, within a week, The Vanguard was converting the expired product into purified alcohol for the sanitizer.

The Vanguard also provides direct-to-consumer sales of sanitizer in an array of various-sized spray bottles. Dollar Tree stores had the best quality and selection of sizes and the Vanguard staff spent weeks visiting local Hampton Roads stores and depleting their stocks. This caused sporadic availability to local consumers, hospitals, health care facilities, and first responders. Ms. Owens then reached out to her friend and U.S. Navy colleague, Mr. Bob Gantt, Vice President of Facilities and Special Projects at Dollar Tree, and pleaded The Vanguard’s case for a bulk purchase of bottles. Mr. Gantt immediately found a solution and was able to coordinate a bulk order with Mr. Harry Thetford and Mr. Mark Adams, who then managed the speedy fulfillment. The Vanguard now has a steady supply of spray sanitizer for the community, thanks to their friends at Dollar Tree.

In appreciation for their assistance in making this possible, The Vanguard donated four gallons of sanitizer to the Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center, one each on behalf of Senator Bill DeSteph, Mr. Bob Archer, Tri-Cities Beverage Co., and Dollar Tree.

Former Navy Pilot, Mother, and Small Business Owner Kathy P. Owens Declares Her Candidacy for Virginia’s 82nd House District

March 25, 2021

Virginia Beach, VA — Former Navy pilot, mother, and small business owner Kathy Owens announced her bid for delegate today, seeking the Republican nomination to serve the 82nd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. 

Owens has devoted countless hours to serving the 82nd district and the Commonwealth, serving on multiple advisory boards, as president of the local civic league, and being awarded Inside Business’ 2019 “Women in Business Achievement” Award.

“I think we would all agree that Washington is a mess. Unfortunately, it is no different in Richmond. The party in power is chipping away at our fundamental rights and values making us less safe and prosperous. The solution to this is to elect skilled, energetic, effective, and visionary leaders who protect our rights and values. I am one of those leaders,” said Owens.

Kathy’s determination to run for the 82nd district comes as long-time Republican stalwart Jason Miyares is running for Attorney General of Virginia. Over the last several years of watching the release of violent criminals, repealing of 2nd Amendment rights, further dissolution of sacred election integrity, and a continuing attack on the unborn, Kathy knew she had to act.

As a business owner, Kathy understands the devastating effects of current policies on those who are just trying to make an honest living. Arbitrary mandates and Executive Orders have created hardships for restaurants and small businesses that need to be addressed.

Owen’s concluded, “A vote for Owens is a vote for effective, transparent, and conservative leadership in Richmond.”

The Republican Legislative District Committee for the 82nd House District is in the process of determining the method of nomination.  Find out more about Kathy Owens at

Kathy Owens: Women veterans should seize their opportunities

March 14, 2020

The Virginian-Pilot

Calling all women veterans: There has never been a better time to become an entrepreneur in Virginia.

For some, the hassles of starting a business can seem more daunting than a night carrier landing in rough seas, but fortunately many nationwide and state programs have been created to assist veterans, and particularly women veterans, navigate and succeed in the world of small business.

Virginia has the highest percentage of women veterans in the United States, more than 107,000 and growing every year. This is why Virginia recognizes the third week of March as “Virginia Women Veterans Week” and organizes the annual Virginia Women Veterans Summit to assist current and transitioning women veterans in connecting with employers, mentors, business leaders and financiers. The summit, hosted by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and partner agencies, is widely attended, well sponsored and, in 2019, held “pitch opportunities” with cash awards.

DVS assists veterans in connecting to a variety of resources. The Small Business Association, in partnership with the DVS Virginia Transition Assistance Program, offers Boots to Business, an entrepreneurial education and training program for transitioning service members, including National Guard and Reserve. These free classes are held frequently and in numerous locations around the commonwealth.

Need a certification to start your business? Onward to Opportunity has you covered with a free career-training program that provides professional certification to transitioning service members and veterans.

Want to parachute right into ownership of an existing business? VETFRAN offers a safe landing zone by encouraging franchisors to offer discounts and incentives to veterans, and assembling resources, tools and a database of franchising opportunities for veterans.

If the risk of failure and thought of being directly responsible for the welfare of others still gives you the pre-deployment jitters, know that most entrepreneurs find that creating jobs and changing the landscape of a region or industry is precisely what makes owning a business so rewarding.

Let the successes of other veteran business owners and the skills and tenacity you have acquired from your military service put you at ease. You will find, for example, that having been immersed in an environment of military acronyms during your service, you will quickly be able to master new terms such as FICA, BPOL, ROI and ID/IQ, and programs such as 8a and SWaM continue to offer a slight advantage for new businesses to thrive and grow in the state and federal contracting arenas.

I once heard a successful college football coach say, “I look for three things in a player: speed, speed and speed. Everything else in the game can be taught.”

The analogy for women veterans looking to be an entrepreneur is that your success in the military has shown that you are trainable, diligent and enterprising. All the rest can be learned.

As Amelia Earhart once said, “The woman who can create her own job is the woman who will win fame and fortune.” There is a frontier of new technology, innovation and services waiting to be explored. Now is the time for you to go win your own fame and fortune.

Cmdr. Kathy P. Owens is a retired U.S. Navy pilot, commercial airline pilot and president of Beach Development Group. She serves on the Virginia Board of Veterans Services, the Virginia War Memorial Foundation board of directors and is vice president of the Central Business District Association of Virginia Beach. Email her at [email protected].