Jan. 27, 2011
Virginia Guard displays capabilities for General Assembly
By Cotton Puryear
Virginia Department of Military Affairs
RICHMOND, Va. — Soldiers and Airmen of the Virginia National Guard along with members of the Virginia Defense Force were on hand with equipment displays at the Virginia General Assembly Building Jan. 19 to give members of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates a first-hand look at some of the capabilities the Guard can provide. Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, also conducted an information briefing for legislators to give an overview of the Virginia Guard.
An Airman from the Virginia Air National Guard's 200th Weather Flight shows off some of the unit's equipment to a member of the Virginia General Assembly Jan. 19 in Richmond. Soldiers and Airmen of the Virginia National Guard along with members of the Virginia Defense Force were on hand with equipment displays at the Virginia General Assembly Building to give members of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates a first-hand look at some of the capabilities the Guard can provide. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)
“This was a great opportunity for us to meet face to face with legislators,” Long said. “We were able to talk with many of them to ensure they understood our issues and concerns.”
Soldiers from the Virginia Counterdrug Task Force and the 34th Civil Support Team, Airmen from the 200th Weather Flight and 192d Fighter Wing, as well as Virginia Army National Guard recruiters, set up displays in the courtyard outside the General Assembly Building. Members of the Virginia Defense Force were also on hand with one of their four mobile command post communication trailers.
The equipment displays provided an opportunity for citizens to learn more about the capabilities of the Virginia National Guard.
“Most civilians probably don't even know we exist because we are a small 20-person unit,” said Senior Master Sgt. Steve Gamache, full-time meteorlogical technican for the Richmond-based 200th Weather Flight. Gamache said the displays were a good opportunity to raise awareness and let people know his unit is providing weather forecasting support during hazardous weather events in Virginia.
“I thought the displays were very well done,” Long said. “It was really good to have the Soldiers, Airmen and VDF members out there to meet people and tell them about the capabilities we can provide.”
A Virginia National Guard Soldier from the 237th Engineer Company displays a humvee to a member of the American Legion outside the General Assembly Building Jan. 19 in Richmond. The equipment displays provided an opportunity for citizens to learn more about the capabilities of the Virginia National Guard. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)
Long presented an information briefing to senators and delegates that provided an overview of the capabilities of the Virginia National Guard, as well as outlined the Guard’s legislative priorities for the session. Senator Mark Herring and Delegate John Cosgrove, co-chairs of the Virginia Guard Caucus, organized the information briefing opportunity.
“Senator Herring and Delegate Cosgrove continue to be great supporters of the Guard, and I appreciate them organizing the opportunity to speak with members of the General Assembly,” Long said.
The Virginia Guard Officer’s Association sponsored the event.
Long said the Guard has received a great show of support from the members of the General Assembly. “In general, I think they are very supportive of the Guard and have great respect for the men and women who have deployed overseas as well as served on state active duty,” he said.
The Virginia Department of Military Affairs has three pieces of legislation approved by the Office of the Secretary of Public Safety to be considered during the session. In addition, there are several budget amendments proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell that could impact the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force.
The Virginia Senate and House of Delegates will consider the following legislation:
SB 891 / HB 1774: Authorizes the Governor to allocate a sum sufficient for preparation of the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia State Defense Force to respond to certain enumerated circumstances, regardless of whether or not an official state of emergency is declared. However, the response preparation is limited to 300 personnel and five days, unless a state of emergency is declared.
SB 1128 / HB 1994: Amends the section of the Code of Virginia addressing a member of the Virginia National Guard’s failure to report for duty. Failure to report would be a Class 4 misdemeanor
SB 1334 / HB 1852: 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, failure to attend training and special courts-martial.
The most significant budget proposals by the Governor include $6.7 million for armory repairs and $2.4 million for energy upgrades at facilities across the state. Funding from this appropriation would assist the Department of Military Affairs in repairing many critical deficiencies, including the following:
- Repairing approximately 20 armory roofs that have exceeded their life expectancy. As they continue to fall in disrepair, it has the potential to cause damage to the overall structural integrity of the building.
- Replacing approximately 10 armory boilers that have exceeded or are approaching their life expectancy.
- Updating approximately 13 armories that require the installation of energy efficiency technology.
- Renovating approximately 7 armories with structural damage.
“The average age of an armory in Virginia is 38 years old, with the oldest being more than 70 years old,” Long said. “Without significant repairs, many of these armories are at risk of being closed in the future due to energy and upkeep costs, which would mean removing the National Guard presence from communities where Guardsmen have resided for decades.”
The 46 armories operating throughout the state are the “home station” for Virginia Guard units and are vital to the training and readiness of more than 9,000 members of the Virginia Army National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force, Long said. These facilities are critical staging resources to respond to natural disasters, and well-maintained facilities also greatly enhance recruiting and retention, Long said.
“We will continue to monitor the session and have representatives in case there are questions,” Long said. “These are very important issues and we want to make maximum impact while we have the opportunity.”