Join the Virginia Defense Force

Members of the Virginia Defense Force assist with winter storm response operations mission tracking Jan. 4, 2018, at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center in the Virginia National Guard’s Emergency Support Function 16 cell in Richmond, Virginia.

The Virginia Defense Force is making plans to expand its capabilities and continue to build partnerships in order to better support their fellow Virginians. The all-volunteer reserve of the Virginia National Guard is looking to grow from its current strength of approximately 300 personnel to its full authorized strength of 750, add additional mission sets and continue discussions with organizations such as the Civil Air Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary for training and exercise opportunities.

Membership in the VDF is open to U.S citizens and legal residents with or without prior military service, ages 16 to 65. Members must have a valid social security number and no felony convictions.

More than 160 members of the Virginia Defense Force conduct hands-on training training to improve their individual skills in the areas of interoperable communications, incident management, traffic control and staff operations and planning April 1, 2017, at Fort Pickett, Virginia.

“The Adjutant General of Virginia has specifically highlighted how we are now a much more capable and professional force, he commended our achievements as a command, control and communications entity, and he wants us to continue to hone and expand those skills, particularly in reaching out to external organizations like the Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard Auxiliary,” explained Brig. Gen. (Va.) Justin Carlitti, commander of the VDF. “Based on the incidents of severe weather that impacted multiple locations across our nation in 2017, the AG tasked the VDF to grow in order to better support the Virginia National Guard’s mission of assisting emergency response organizations to protect citizens of the commonwealth in times of need.”

In the coming weeks, the VDF senior leadership will evaluate a number of possible courses of action for increasing the kind of support it provides.

In addition to current mission sets like interoperable communications, operations center augmentation, incident management assistance and public information, Carlitti explained the VDF staff will evaluate the creation of a civil support security platoon that could perform security tasks such as access control, gate sentry and traffic control as well as operate radio systems used by law enforcement, support commodity distribution points and conduct light urban and wilderness search and rescue.

The VDF is also growing cyber defense capabilities and has assisted with numerous Virginia National Guard network security assessments for Virginia localities in a state active duty status, and it is also looking to expand its ability to provide medical support, Carlitti said.

The VDF is authorized by Title 44 of the Code of the Virginia as the all-volunteer reserve of the Virginia National Guard, and it serves as a force multiplier integrated into all Guard domestic operations. The VDF reports to the Adjutant General of Virginia as part of the Virginia Department of Military Affairs along with the Virginia Army National Guard and Virginia Air National Guard.

Members of the VDF volunteer their time for training and are only paid when called to state active duty by an authorization from the Governor of Virginia.

Please visit the VDF Units page for a map of unit locations.

Members of the Virginia Defense Force in Richmond, Virginia, operate a Mobile Communication Platform trailer used to communicate with VDF elements in Winchester and Lynchburg Feb. 25, 2017, during a statewide communications exercise.

In recent months when severe weather struck the commonwealth, VDF personnel worked in a number of different capacities. In the Virginia Emergency Operations Center, they assisted with processing requests for support in Emergency Support Function 16, the Guard’s response cell in the VEOC. They also assisted with mission tracking in the Guard’s Joint Operations Center and helped with public information support as well as providing interoperable communications and incident management assistance to units in the field.

During domestic operations, the Virginia National Guard receives missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist the Virginia State Police and other state and local emergency service organizations as part of the state emergency response team.

In addition to current mission sets like interoperable communications, operations center augmentation, incident management assistance and public information, the VDF will train personnel for more general support to civil authorities and emergency response capabilities using such standards as FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Teams. Training will include basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.

The VDF is also growing cyber defense capabilities and has assisted with numerous Virginia National Guard network security assessments for Virginia localities in a state active duty status.

The VDF plans to conduct four three-day training assemblies at Fort Pickett this year that will focus on professional military education, small unit leadership and headquarters staff operations as well as refresher training on communications equipment and initial entry training for new members. Operational readiness evaluations will also be conducted to ensure personnel and equipment are ready for possible state active duty response missions.

In the last 18 months, members of the VDF volunteered in their communities assisting organizers and law enforcement at events like the Virginia War Memorial during Veterans Day and Memorial Day, the Winchester Apple Blossom Festival, the Lynchburg Air Show and the World War II Commemoration in Richmond.

Members of the Virginia Defense Force operate traffic control points and provide mission command support May 5, 2017, at the 90th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, Virginia.

VDF members bring a wide variety of military, law enforcement, firefighting, emergency medical services, network security, radio communications and other civilian skills to mission sets including emergency communications support, operations center augmentation, resource management, operational planning, incident management assistance, cyber defense, access control and public information.

While some VDF members are retired military or first responders, many are younger people who looking to gain leadership experience and new skills.

“The main requirements for joining the VDF are a willingness to serve and an ability to respond when called to duty,” Carlitti said. “Regardless of your experience level or background, if you have a desire to serve your community and can volunteer a few hours of your time each month, then there is a place for you in our organization.”

If you want to follow a satisfying path of service, consider joining the Virginia Defense Force today. Join many other “Virginians helping Virginia.”

Height-Weight Requirements for Recruitment into the VDF
*** NOTE: Males are the first page and Females are on the second ***

Want to know more? Please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page or Contact Us with specific questions.

A member of the Virginia Defense Force assists a veteran at the Virginia World War I and World War II Commemoration Commission Tribute to Veterans Dec. 8, 2016, in Richmond, Virginia.