About the Virginia Defense Force

The Virginia Defense Force is authorized by Section 44-54.4 of the Code of Virginia as the all-volunteer reserve of the Virginia National Guard, and the VDF serves as a force multiplier integrated into all VNG domestic operations.

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

The VDF’s primary lines of effort are operations center augmentation, interoperable communications, agency liaison and cyber network defense as well as direct support to the VNG with logistics, medical, chaplain, legal and public information capabilities.

Current strength is approximately 275, and membership is a cross section of former or retired military, law enforcement, fire and emergency medial services professionals along with a younger generation of Virginians looking to serve the commonwealth in a military-style organization in an emergency response environment.

Recent VDF Missions:

When the VNG was called to state active duty for a series of winter weather events in January 2022, the VDF quickly responded with operations center augmentation and public information support as well as fielding a logistics distribution capability for the first time. In addition to the VDF placing a highly experienced logistics planner in the VNG’s joint Logistics Operations Center, the distribution team safely travel hundreds of miles to get key supplies and equipment to VNG units staging for possible winter weather response.

During VNG domestic response operations in 2021, VDF personnel  augmented the VNG’s Joint Operations Center as well as their coordination cell in the Virginia Emergency Operations Center.

The VDF’s 31st Cyber Battalion is staffed by IT professionals with a wide range of industry-recognized certifications. After validation by the VNG’s 91st Cyber Brigade, VDF cyber teams have conducted numerous network vulnerability assessments for Virginia localities.

During Virginia’s COVID-19 response, Virginia Defense Force personnel contributed significantly to the operation of the Commonwealth of Virginia Incident Management Team. They served in key leadership positions, supported the Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s vaccination efforts, helped track vetting and certification of fixed community vaccination sites, developed survey tools for initial site assessments and collected data to assess vaccination sites.

VDF and VNG personnel filled positions in the regional coordination center for each Virginia Department of Emergency Management region, helping to ensure the efficient and productive coordination of the statewide mobile vaccination effort.

VDF personnel supported the Situational Awareness Unit at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management in a state active duty status for more than 500 days during the COVID-19 response.

All VDF personnel maintain the secondary skill set for access control and traffic management, and VDF personnel have demonstrated their commitment to volunteer service when they provided assistance to VNG departure ceremonies as well as events at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford and the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond.

Brief history of the VDF:

In response to the 1917 federalization of the Virginia National Guard, the Commonwealth of Virginia created the Virginia State Volunteers to support civil authorities. They were renamed the Virginia Volunteers and guarded bridges, waterways, fuel storage areas and public buildings and facilities. The Virginia Volunteers were deactivated in 1921 when the Virginia National Guard returned home from World War I.

Following the 1940 Nazi defeat of the French army, Virginia Governor James Hubert Price ordered the establishment of the Virginia Protective Force, which assumed the in-state missions of the Virginia National Guard after it was called to federal service. In 1944, the Virginia General Assembly changed the name of the Virginia Protective Force to the Virginia State Guard, and it was deactivated when the Virginia National Guard returned from federal service in June 1947.

The Virginia General Assembly amended the Code of Virginia in 1981 to permit a Virginia State Guard to once again exist during peacetime, and organizational meetings continued for several years. The Virginia State Guard State Headquarters was formally established on April 18, 1984, which is considered the founding date of the modern Virginia Defense Force.

The Virginia General Assembly amended the Code of Virginia on March 1, 1986, to change the name of the Virginia State Guard to the Virginia Defense Force.

Read the latest news about the VDF on the Virginia National Guard news web site.

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