Jan. 26, 2011

Visual Information section provides audiovisual capabilities to the Virginia Guard

By Capt. Matthew Nowak
Virginia Army Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s Visual Information section provides a number of services and equipment to requesting units across the state and those visiting Fort Pickett.


Visual Information manager Ronald Mason takes a DA photo of an active duty noncommissioned officer at the Fort Pickett DA photo lab Jan. 12. The lab was opened in November 2010 and accepts appointments Wednesdays and Thursdays. (Photo by Capt. Matthew Nowak, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

The VI section has a variety of missions within its scope of work. It is responsible for the photo lab that takes official Department of the Army Photos and other head and shoulder photos. It has multimedia equipment available for short-term use and can provide presentation and consultation support.

“Visual Information is more than just taking pictures and video. It's a component of the ‘Information as a Weapon System’ concept,” said the Army Guard’s G6 and Information Management Officer, Maj. John Monihan. “It's a resource that is available to not only aid a commander with presentations, but to provide for effective and efficient training, to capture the historical record of that unit, and to support the public message of the unit or agency.”

As part of the mission, equipment is available for short-term use for units within the Virginia Guard. The list of available equipment includes: projectors, screens, public announcement systems, overhead projectors, digital cameras, helmet camcorders, DVD/BluRay players, wireless microphones, and polycoms.

The VI section is available to assist with indoor or outdoor audiovisual needs for ceremonies. They can photograph and take video of changes of command, promotion ceremonies, retirement ceremonies and graduations for battalion level and higher-sized units. VI can set up a public address system for these ceremonies and will work with the unit from start to finish including rehearsals.

The section can also advise units when they are looking to acquire audiovisual equipment. They can help research types of equipment and match up its specifications with certain uses. From start to finish the section can design, layout, recommend and install equipment for conference rooms, classrooms, and briefing rooms.

The DA Photo lab is one of the main functions of the VI section. It is located at Fort Pickett’s building 1306, across from the old post headquarters building. It began operations in November 2010. Since opening, it has seen its numbers increase weekly and currently averages six to eight Soldiers per week.

“I try to accommodate and work with soldiers as best as I can. Don’t wait until the last minute to make a request. Walk-ins will probably be turned away,” said VI manager, Ronnie Mason. “Come prepared to your appointment and don’t leave anything for last minute. Uniforms should not have anything wrong with it. No loose strings, no crooked buttons and check a ribbon rack builder on the Internet.”

The regulation for DA photos is Army Regulation 640-30, Photographs For Military Personnel Files (10 Apr 06). The photograph is an important representation of the Soldier and is of particular interest during DA selection boards and career management activities. All official photographs for general officers, commissioned officers, warrant officers, and noncommissioned officers will be taken digitally, in color and done in the Class A Army Green Service uniform until the Army Blue Service Uniform is required.

Appointments are typically reserved for Wednesdays and Thursdays and can be scheduled online at https://www.vios-akoeast.army.mil.

The lab can be reserved specifically for units if they have a larger group of Soldiers. The lab is not limited to Guardsman. Active duty and Reserve Soldiers may request times for photos.

As Fort Lee grows, overflow will be expected and appointments and requests will need to be made as early as possible, said Mason.

As business increases the shop will be looking to grow and increase its capabilities over the next few years.

Click HERE to download he DA Photo Help Sheet.

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