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ALBANY – Many veterans say returning to civilian life after service can have some challenges.
That was the case for Ty Thoeny, who spent eight years serving in the Navy and the Navy Reserves.
“I lived on a ship, ate on a ship, and traveled on a ship. I was on a ship for four years, Now, I am out in what you would consider the real world and I didn’t really have a lot of direction,” Thoeny said.
Eventually, Ty got into welding, and about five years ago, he started his own welding fabrication shop called Weldstream. Along with his own hard work, he says the Veterans in Economic Transition Conference, also known as VETCON, has been a big factor in helping his business grow.
“My business has tripled in those years. It has been a good tool for sure,” he explained.
The annual conference has been around for six years, and it helps bridge the gap between service-disabled veteran owned businesses and dozens of state agencies looking to award contracts.
“There is 6% set aside for service-disabled veteran owned businesses. Right now, we are maybe nearing half of that,” said Anthony Kuhn, chair of VETCON Alliance 2021. “We are trying to set up two-day sessions for the past six years when we pair up those agencies with the service-disabled veteran owned businesses. We do panel discussions and presentations.”
Thoeny says he’s thankful for the incredible networking opportunities the event provides.
This year, the conference was held on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the Crowne Plaza Albany – Desmond Hotel. Since its inception in 2016, VETCON has helped 900 veterans.