March 10, 2011

General Assembly approves unprecedented investments in the Virginia National Guard

By Stephen Parker
Virginia Dept. of Military Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. — When the 2011 General Assembly session adjourned on Feb. 27, members of the House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia awarded the Department of Military Affairs the largest single state appropriation of additional funds the agency has received in the past 16 years and also passed important legislation including bills allowing the governor to bring Virginia Guard personnel on state active duty without a formal declaration of emergency.

Included in the 2011 budget bill were several key items that were designated by Governor Bob McDonnell in his introduced budget to repair critical facility deficiencies affecting Virginia National Guard facilities across the commonwealth. Most significant among these items was the addition of $6.9 million to the Department of Military Affairs in Fiscal Year 2012 for statewide repair of armories that are in dire need of roofs, boilers and structural repairs. These state funds will be matched by federal matching funds that could potentially double the pool of money available to improve armories throughout the commonwealth.

"My focus is on providing a premier, ready, relevant, resilient and rapid responding force to meet the needs of the commonwealth and these funds will go a long way towards helping us do that," said Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. "This is an unprecedented investment to improve the infrastructure and readiness of the Virginia National Guard and to provide an environment where our Soldiers, Airmen, members of the Virginia Defense Force and civilian employees want to come and work every day."

In addition to state appropriations to improve armories, $200,000 was allocated by the General Assembly to carry out facility repairs at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. and $17,735 was provided to the Virginia Defense Force to purchase high frequency network enabled command and control equipment. The General Assembly also invested $2.4 million to perform armory energy upgrades that will replace inefficient windows, energy control systems and building envelopes and contribute to significant savings in energy costs at facilities across the commonwealth.

During the 46-day Session, the General Assembly also considered three pieces of legislation introduced on behalf of the Department of Military Affairs and each one of them was met with resounding support in committees and on the floors of each house. The following legislation passed the Virginia General Assembly with overwhelming support from delegates and senators from across the commonwealth from both political parties:

Early mobilization of Virginia Guard personnel:
HB1774 (Delegate Beverly Sherwood) and SB891 (Senator William Wampler)

These identical bills authorize the governor to allocate a sum sufficient funding for preparation of the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force to respond to certain circumstances, regardless of whether an official state of emergency has been declared. This legislation allows critical manpower and resource placement in advance of an official emergency declaration in order to ensure efficient, effective and timely response.

Misdemeanor punishment for AWOL Guard personnel:
HB1994 (Delegate William Janis) and SB1128 (Senator Walter Stosch)

These bills make it a Class 4 misdemeanor for a member of the Virginia National Guard to fail to report for duty. While the overwhelming majority of Guardsmen faithfully serve, this legislation will decrease the few instances where Soldiers or Airmen fail to adhere to their service obligations. Enactment of this law will not only ensure manpower capabilities but will increase overall morale of the Virginia National Guard.

Comprehensive Revisions to Military Code:
HB1852 (Delegate Christopher Stolle) and SB1334 (Senator Mark Herring)

This legislation makes several amendments to the military laws of the commonwealth. Many of the changes are technical, such as updating references to the Virginia State Guard and Virginia State Defense Force to the Virginia Defense Force and deleting obsolete references. The bill also makes amendments to the appointment of officers of the National Guard and special courts-martial.

“The support the Virginia Guard received from the secretary of public safety, the General Assembly and the governor is a testament to their desire to ensure that our Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force have the necessary tools to protect their commonwealth and nation,” Long said.

The budget and key Guard legislation are currently on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature. Should the governor elect to sign them, they will go into effect on July 1.

Related Stories:

March 14, 2002
General Assembly celebrates accomplishments of Virginia National Guard

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