Governor and legislators commend Virginia Guard

Governor Bob McDonnell and members of the Virginia General Assembly commend the Virginia National Guard for the organization's service to commonwealth and country at a legislative reception hosted Jan. 18 by the Virginia Guard Officer's Association and Virginia Guard Enlisted Association at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Bob McDonnell and members of the Virginia General Assembly commended the Virginia National Guard for the organization’s service to commonwealth and country at a legislative reception sponsored Jan. 18 by the Virginia Guard Officer’s Association and Virginia Guard Enlisted Association at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. Delegate John Cosgrove (R-78) and Sen. Mark Herring (D-33rd), co-chairs of the Virginia Guard Caucus, hosted the event.

“It has been a phenomenal year of progress, success, courage and results for the Virginia National Guard,” McDonnell said. “I am here tonight to thank the Soldiers and Airmen of the Virginia Guard for your incredible service and all you have done supporting the missions and interests of the United States of America.”

Approximately 20 Soldiers and Airmen who served on federal active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan were invited to the reception to share their experiences with the legislators in attendance.

“To the men and women who have recently returned from deployment, I can’t thank you enough for your service,” he said. “We can’t maintain the level of prosperity that Virginia is able to enjoy today without having men and women who will selflessly go and defend our interests.”

McDonnell said that with the United States ending operations in Iraq and shifting focus to Afghanistan as well as other parts of the world that it is evident to him that the Guard will still be in as much need as ever. He also commended the Guard for its rapid response here in the Commonwealth. “On such short notice, the Guard has always been there to deploy,” he said.

“I know I speak for all the legislators here that we are going to do everything we can to honor your service, make sure that the Guard has the resources it needs so we can continue to recruit the best and brightest to serve in the Virginia National Guard,” he said.

McDonnell introduced a number of military and veterans focused legislative efforts Jan. 12, including two sponsored by the Department of Military Affairs. One provides in-state tuition for members of the Virginia National Guard, regardless of how long they have lived in Virginia. The bill was introduced into the House of Delegates by Delegate Christopher P. Stolle (R-83rd) as HB 644 and into the Senate by Senator Frank W. Wagner (R-7th) as SB 508.

Another import piece of legislation sponsored by the Virginia Department of Military Affairs gives preferential hiring of Virginia National Guard members for state employment. The bill was introduced in the House of Delegates by Delegate Mark I. Cole (R 88th) as HB 384 and into the Senate by Senator Thomas A. Garrett, Jr. (R-22nd) as SB 527.

Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor also recognized the Virginia Guard Dec. 18 with a statement on the floor of the House of Representatives that was captured in the Congressional Record. Here is the full text of his statement:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the selfless service of the Virginia National Guard, which is now celebrating 400 years of service to the Commonwealth of Virginia and our nation.

With its roots dating back to the Jamestown Colony in the early 1600s, the Virginia Guard has established itself as one of the oldest institutions of our nation’s armed forces. From protecting the colonies during the earliest days of the Commonwealth to its role in the Revolutionary War, the Virginia Guard was an essential force in the inception of our great nation.

For over four centuries, Virginia’s guardsmen have come from all walks of life and volunteered to be “a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.” These men and women have gone into harm’s way time and time again to preserve peace and ensure their fellow citizens of the Commonwealth are kept safe. Members of the Virginia Guard also have a proud history of public service to the nation at large, including five Virginia Guard officers who later went on to become U.S.  Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and John Tyler.

More recently, the brave men and women of the Virginia Guard have again selflessly answered the call to duty. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, over 14,000 Virginia soldiers have been deployed across the world to protect our country. The enormous sacrifice of these soldiers and their families is something for which we will forever be grateful for.

Mr. Speaker, please join me in recognizing the sacrifice and service of all past and present Virginia Guardsmen as we celebrate 400 years of courage and bravery in protecting the Commonwealth of Virginia and our country.

[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 6 (Wednesday, January 18, 2012)]