Family programs and Va. Defense Force recognized during Volunteer Appreciation Week

A member of the Virginia Defense Force helps a visitor to the Virginia War Memorial with directions at the Commonwealth's Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 11, 2014, Richmond, Va. More than 20 members of the Virginia Defense Force volunteered their time to provide traffic control and parking assistance for the event. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

A member of the Virginia Defense Force helps a visitor to the Virginia War Memorial with directions at the Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 11, 2014, Richmond, Va. More than 20 members of the Virginia Defense Force volunteered their time to provide traffic control and parking assistance for the event. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — The U. S. Army recognizes April 12 – 18, 2015, as Volunteer Appreciation Week, and this is a perfect time to recognize the great work of two outstanding groups who are essential to the success of the Virginia National Guard: family readiness volunteers and the Virginia Defense Force.

Family Readiness Volunteers provide services in support of the commander’s readiness program and act as family readiness group leaders and co-leaders, phone tree callers, FRG fund treasurers and newsletter editors. They all work to support the commander’s ability to disseminate pertinent and relevant family information to designated family members of our Soldiers and Airmen. The primary function is providing information, followed by referral to resources when needed and providing support to our uniformed personnel and their family members when necessary. The readiness volunteers provide mentorship for families in all aspects of National Guard life.

Volunteers are also critical to the success of our youth program. Events like the Teen Camp in Newcastle, the Youth Camp at Camp Pendleton, Teen Resiliency Retreats, Back to School Bashes, community service projects, Teen Panel trainings and events in partnership with 4-H wouldn’t be possible without the support of both adult and teen volunteers.

Last year more than 150 volunteers provided more nearly 5,300 hours to family readiness programs and almost 4,100 hours to youth programs. Based on estimates that the average value of a volunteer hour is $22.55 per hour, these dedicated volunteers provided almost $212,000 worth of support to the Virginia National Guard.

The Virginia Defense Force is the all-volunteer reserve of the Virginia National Guard authorized by the code of Virginia. These dedicated members of the VDF volunteer their time each month to conduct training to be able to answer the call of the Governor when needed, and the VDF is integrated into every domestic operation the Virginia National Guard conducts. During recent state active duty missions, members of the VDF provided critical assistance by augmenting the personnel working in the Virginia Emergency Operations Center in Richmond and the Virginia National Guard Joint Operations Center in Sandston.

Members of the VDF also volunteer their time to support events at the Virginia War Memorial on Memorial Day and Veterans Day or community events like the Winchester Apple Blossom Festival. Their assistance helps the event organizers provide a safe experience for their attendees.

These volunteers are absolutely essential to the Virginia National Guard mission, and we are incredibly fortunate for the way they selflessly give their time to our statewide community. It is important to show our appreciation to these great Virginian for the contributions they make, so please take time to say “thank you” the next time you see a Family Programs volunteer or member of the Virginia Defense Force.

Adult and teen volunteers are essential to the success of events like the ninth annual Virginia National Guard Youth Camp held July 21-25, 2014, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. The weeklong camp, presented by the Virginia National Guard Family Programs Office, offers the children of Virginia military members a wide variety of outdoor and indoor activities, including swimming and fishing, arts & crafts, classes on flag etiquette, science and the environment, and trips to Ocean Breeze Water Park, the Virginia Aquarium and Busch Gardens. In addition, campers received a first-hand look at weapons and vehicles used by the Virginia National Guard, as well as a visit by the horses and officers of the Virginia Beach Police Department Mounted Patrol. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Adult and teen volunteers are essential to the success of events like the ninth annual Virginia National Guard Youth Camp held July 21-25, 2014, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. The weeklong camp, presented by the Virginia National Guard Family Programs Office, offers the children of Virginia military members a wide variety of outdoor and indoor activities, including swimming and fishing, arts & crafts, classes on flag etiquette, science and the environment, and trips to Ocean Breeze Water Park, the Virginia Aquarium and Busch Gardens. In addition, campers received a first-hand look at weapons and vehicles used by the Virginia National Guard, as well as a visit by the horses and officers of the Virginia Beach Police Department Mounted Patrol. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)