Virginia Defense Force selects 2011 NCO of the Year

By Capt. David Cahan
Virginia Defense Force Blackhorse Brigade

Command Sergeant Maj. Dennis Green, Virginia National Guard Senior Enlisted Leader, recognizes Staff Sgt. Milton Chen of Charlottesville Feb. 4 for his outstanding service in the Virginia Defense Force during the all-volunteer organization's Commander's Conference at Fort Pickett. Chen was selected as the VDF NCO of the Year for 2011. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

MANASSAS, Va. — The Virginia Defense Force has selected Staff Sgt. Milton Chen of Charlottesville as the 2011 Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. In a ceremony held Dec. 17, 2011, Maj. Gen. John Taylor, commander of the VDF, honored Chen and presented him with the award that recognizes outstanding duty performance, knowledge of mission, civic involvement, volunteer hours and completion of various skill-based schools.

Competitors from all over the commonwealth must be nominated by their unit command and compete at the battalion and brigade level before appearing at a Division NCO Board in Richmond.

Staff Sgt. Milton Chen of Charlottesville is the Virginia Defense Force 2011 Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. (Contributed photo)

Chen serves as first sergeant for Charlottesville-based Company C, 33rd Battalion. He is qualified in several of the nine response packages offered by the VDF including Incident Management Assistance Teams and Shelter Assistance Liaison Teams. He is also Military Emergency Management Specialist qualified.

Chen credits his experience in the VDF with honing his leadership and training skills which he puts to use as a Line-X franchise owner. “My experience in dealing with people as a business owner has helped me greatly in my leadership role in the State Guard and the converse is true as well,” Chen said. “I’m a much better teacher, listener and leader in my business and in the community because of my VDF experience.”

Chen has served in the Defense Force since 2008.

The VDF is an all-volunteer force authorized by the Code of Virginia and organized under the Virginia Department of Military Affairs reporting to the Adjutant General of Virginia. In 2010, the VDF provided approximately 58,850 man hours in service to the commonwealth.  Using the Virginia average of $21.45 per hour of volunteer work, this equates to $1,262,332 in support.

The Blackhorse Brigade, which controls all VDF units in the northern third of the state, deployed four IMAT teams during Hurricane Irene. In addition to SALT and IMAT, the VDF offers other response packages to the Virginia Department of Military Affairs including Mobile Communications Platform, Civil Disturbance Force and Fixed Wing Aviation.

For more information about the Virginia Defense Force please visit