RICHMOND – Governor Timothy M. Kaine announced today that he has submitted a budget amendment providing for $2,000 re-enlistment bonuses for Virginia National Guard personnel.
The amendment, which totals $1.4 million in fiscal year 2006, provides that all Guard personnel who are eligible for re-enlistment between April 1st and September 30, 2006, and choose to re-enlist for at least two years, will receive the one-time, lump-sum bonus payment. This state bonus is in addition to re-enlistment entitlements provided to eligible National Guard personnel by the federal government.
“This initiative acknowledges the sacrifices made by our Guard personnel and their families, and represents a tangible demonstration of the Commonwealth’s appreciation for their service,” Governor Kaine said. “This one-time bonus will help keep trained, experienced soldiers and airmen in the Virginia National Guard, which certainly is more cost-effective than the cost of training new personnel.”
Currently, the Virginia National Guard has 6,894 soldiers and an authorized strength of 7,555, and Guard officials estimate they have experienced an average net reduction of about 100 soldiers each month. If this trend continues, it could result in less manpower and reduced flexibility for the Virginia National Guard to respond to natural disasters, terrorist threats, and other events that threaten the Commonwealth and nation.
“When I look at the caliber of the men and women in the Guard, I see the best that Virginia and our nation have to offer,” said Brig. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., Adjutant General. “These soldiers have met the demands of living and working in their respective civilian communities, and we respect and appreciate their decision to choose the challenges of their military community as well.”
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, more than 4,490 soldiers of the Virginia Army National Guard and 1,085 airmen of the Virginia Air National Guard have entered active federal service in support Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Air Expeditionary Force operations.
The National Guard also fulfills a critical state mission. In September 2003, following Hurricane Isabel, more than 1,200 soldiers and airmen were called to active duty, helping to clear 400 miles of primary and secondary roads and distributing ice and water. UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were used to conduct damage assessment missions as well as transport cargo and personnel.
In September 2005, more than 600 men and women from the Virginia Army and Air National Guard were deployed to the Gulf Coast states following Hurricane Katrina under terms of a multi-state compact.
The Virginia National Guard has served community, Commonwealth and country since 1607.