Virginia National Guard COVID-19 FAQs

Commonwealth of Virginia COVID-19 Information Page:
https://www.virginia.gov/coronavirus-updates/

Virginia Department of Health Frequently Asked Questions:
http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/frequently-asked-questions/

Virginia National Guard COVID-19 Resources:
https://vaguard.dodlive.mil/covid-19/

Virginia National Guard Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What is the Virginia National Guard currently doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Right now, there are more than 100 personnel on duty helping move supplies and assisting with planning at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center. Many more have been alerted for possible duty and we will bring on more once we have identified where their assistance is most needed.

2. Will Soldiers, Airmen or VDF members be required to come to drill in April?

The Virginia Army Guard will not conduct any face-to-face training during the month of April in order to prevent spread of the virus and to ensure Soldiers who might have the virus, even if undetected, do not come into contact with other healthy Soldiers. Commanders were given the authority to offer their Soldiers online training commensurate with at least two days of drill pay. This will enable our Soldiers to maintain their benefits to include Tricare Reserve Select, which many of our Guardsmen contribute to through their drill checks.

There will be no “in-person” April drill for the Virginia Air National Guard. Commanders will maximize flexibility to plan various remote options and/or execute rescheduled drills based on “Airmen First, Mission Always.” Unless specifically exempted by a commander, physical attendance at April drill is prohibited for all members of the VaANG.

All Virginia Defense Force training scheduled for April will be conducted virtually unless absolutely mission essential. The Winchester Apple Blossom Festival has been postponed, so the VDF no longer has support requirements for that event. Every member of the VDF should contact their first line leader for specific guidance for how training will be conducted and how to maintain a high state of readiness for possible missions.

3. What sort of things will National Guard members be doing for drill this month if they’re not meeting in person?

Most of the training will be remote and take advantage of distance learning opportunities. We are using a system of checks to verify Soldiers and Airmen are on duty, reviewing their planned training for the day, then checking out at the end of the day to verify the training was completed.

A small number of personnel will be on duty conducting essential vehicle maintenance to make sure vehicles and equipment are ready to go if needed. They will be using staggered work schedules, hand washing and social distancing to stay safe.

4. How will this impact my unit’s annual training plan? Is the 116th IBCT still going to JRTC?

While there are many questions about how COVID-19 will affect future training events, this is a fluid situation and no one can predict when this end. As of right now, the 116th IBCT is still scheduled for JRTC this summer and the Virginia Army National Guard will not participate in overseas training exercises until further notice. As critical as training is, COVID-19 is what we are dealing with right now. What is most important is protecting the force and our families by making common sense decisions and now allowing them to physically assemble for the next 30-45 days.

5. If I get activated by the National Guard, what sort of missions will I be doing?

Right now, thousands of National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are assisting with COVID-19 response in their respective states. These men and women are helping hospitals set up triage tents, moving supplies, assisting with medical screenings, supporting food banks and assisting as needed in their communities. Currently, in Virginia, there are about 60 personnel on duty helping move supplies and assisting with planning at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center, but we may be asked to provide capabilities to other state agencies in the new future.

Families should prepare for the possibility their Soldier, Airmen or VF member may be directed to report to assist with emergency response efforts. Our force works and lives in every community across the Commonwealth and have a proven track record of success in supporting civilian authorities during homeland emergences such as this. If our Commonwealth needs us, we’ll be there.

6. If I get activated by the National Guard and put on State Active Duty, when will I get paid?

The Virginia National Guard has developed a pay schedule for Soldiers on State Active Duty with 14-day pay periods. VNG members can expect to be paid approximately two weeks after the close of the pay period. So, if you started SAD on March 15, 2020, the first day of the first COVID-19 response pay period, that pay period runs through March 28, 2020, and payments for that period will be issued April 10, 2020. From there, pay dates will be continue every two weeks.

7. I saw on the news that President Trump activated the National Guard. What does that mean?

President Trump authorized National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in California, Washington and New York to serve in a Title 32 status, which means they remain under the control of their governor, but are paid by the federal government. This allows for additional resources to meet the missions necessary in the CODID-19 response while allowing state governor’s and adjutants general to use their National Guard troops when and where they are most needed.

8. How does the DoD travel restriction pertain to me as a member of the National Guard?

While DoD travel restrictions do not apply to members of the National Guard in a Title 32 or State Active Duty Status, those members are still subject to the travel restrictions implemented by the governor and adjutant general. Currently, leave is only authorized within a normal commuting distance and those seeking an exception to that policy must have their leave reviewed and authorized by the first general officer in their chain of command.

9. What resources are available for those needing financial assistance?

Military OneSource has compiled a list of support options for financial stresses caused by COVID-19. In addition, the COVID-19 Emergency Financial Relief Program is available, and Virginia National Guard Personal Financial Counselors are standing by to provide remote financial counseling. For more information, email PFC.VA.NG@Zeiders.com or PFC2.VA.NG@Zeiders.com, or by phone at (540) 360-5752 or (703) 635-9853.

For additional resources, including information for small businesses, unemployment concerns and mortgage relief, click here.

10. What resources are available to help our families?

The Virginia National Guard Family Programs Office put together a comprehensive guide for families that includes information on Family Assistance Centers, school meal services, child care fee assistance information, activities to help keep your families and kids engaged and more. Click here to access the COVID-19 Family Resources Guide.

For additional information and resources, contact your local Family Assistance Center.

11. Are classes at the Winchester STARBASE Academy and the Commonwealth ChalleNGe Youth Academy continuing?

The health and wellbeing of Virginia Department of Military Affairs employees and the students attending Winchester STARBASE Academy and Virginia Commonwealth ChalleNGe Youth Academy are our number one priority.

STARBASE is a Department of Defense educational program, sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, where students participate in 25 hours of “hands-on, mind-on” activities in science, technology, engineering and math over five days.

No students are currently attending Winchester STARBASE Academy. Staff members are conducting online training and preparing and maintaining equipment to be ready for when activities do resume. No timetable has been set for the resumption of activities.

Commonwealth ChalleNGe, the Virginia component of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, is a 17-and-a-half-month program designed to promote academics, attention to detail, time management, and leadership, while promoting self-esteem, confidence and pride.
No cadets are currently at ChalleNGe. Class 53 was scheduled to begin in March but has been delayed indefinitely and will begin when appropriate. ChalleNGe staff is in regular communication with the families of Class 53 and is providing updates as needed.

ChalleNGe leadership built a nine-week training plan for its employees. As a result, most staff members at ChalleNGe are working remotely and completing required Virginia Department of Military Affairs and National Guard Bureau training. Teachers and counselors are also completing continuing education training and career counselors are maintaining communication with cadets from the previous two classes, who are still in the 12-month, post-residential phase of the program. A small number of employees are working on campus in shifts, including maintenance workers who are cleaning and maintaining buildings and grounds.  

12. I’m a Title 32 or Title 5 technician; what sort of leave am I entitled to if me or a family member gets sick with COVID-19?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides paid sick leave under certain conditions protected by temporary Family Medical Leave Act rules for the period of April 1 – Dec. 31, 2020. Entitlements under this act allow for two weeks of paid sick leave for personnel subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; or who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; or who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis. The act also provides benefits for those who are carrying for an individual who is sick or quarantined.

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