January 29, 2009

Virginia Defense Force strength reaches 900

RICHMOND, Va. —RICHMOND, Va. - For the first time since its inception in 1985, the Virginia Defense Force personnel strength exceeded 900 members trained and ready to respond to the call of the Governor and to support the Virginia National Guard during state emergencies. The milestone was reached by the VDF drill weekend conducted Jan. 10.

In 2008, the VDF volunteered more than 85,000 hours in support of Virginia National Guard operations. The value of those volunteer hours is estimated to have saved the Commonwealth of Virginia nearly $1.6 million.

The Virginia Defense Force is an all-volunteer force authorized by the Code of Virginia and organized under the Virginia Department of Military Affairs. "Our mission is to provide direct support to the National Guard after a major disaster to help our fellow citizens in a time of need,"aid Maj. Gen. (VA) John Taylor, commander of the VDF. "There is no more noble mission thanthis type of assistance."

VDF units are located in over 38 Virginia Army National Guard installations throughout the Commonwealth. The division headquarters is located in Richmond and there are three operational brigades: Lafayette in the Tidewater area, Black Horse in Northern Virginia and Highland in Roanoke.

"The VDF had 505 volunteers in late 2006 in 38 communities within the Commonwealth and needed to increase the size of these units and also activate additional units to reach the response capability level required by Maj Gen Newman, the new Adjutant General," Taylor said. "The VDF reached 700 in 2007 and then 900 in early 2009 based on a strategic plan formulated by the senior
leaders and subordinate unit members."

Taylor also attributed the success of the VDF recruiting effort to individual recruiting efforts in the different communities where VDF units are located.

"The VDF reached the goal of 900 based on every member understanding the volunteer mission of the organization to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth in times of disaster as a member of the Virginia Department of Military Affairs," Taylor said. "The final goal is to reach 1,200 volunteers in the next 24 months and retain volunteers in the VDF with increased presence in as many communities in the Commonwealth as possible. We want to make sure the volunteer organization has the capabilities to augment the Virginia Department of Military Affairs at the maximum level for any disaster response anywhere in the Commonwealth."

Further information about the VDF may be found on its website:  www.vdf.virginia.gov, or by contacting division headquarters at the VNG armory, 500 Dove Street, Richmond, Virginia 23222;  local: 804-228-7018; Tollfree: 866-791-9164.

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