Join the Virginia Defense Force

A member of the Virginia Defense Force assists with Hurricane Ian response operations Sept. 30, 2022, at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center in Richmond, Virginia.

The Virginia Defense Force 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.

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

If you are ready to submit your information to start the recruiting process, please visit the VDF Recruit Info Form page.

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.

Recent VDF Training and Missions

Members of the Virginia Defense Force’s 1st Regiment conduct the Spring Winds 22 training exercise May 14, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia. 

Members of the Virginia Defense Force’s 1st Regiment conducted the “Spring Winds 22” training exercise May 14, 2022, at multiple locations across Virginia to test their incident management assistance, access control and interoperable communication support capabilities. The exercise simulated a severe hurricane and how the VDF would support the Virginia National Guard’s role as a member of the state multi-agency response team.

“The Virginia Defense Force continues to demonstrate why they are such an important part of the Virginia National Guard’s domestic response capabilities,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “This exercise is the latest example of VDF leaders making readiness a priority to be sure they are ready to provide the capabilities we might need during a severe weather situation. In addition to ensuring their systems are fully functional, the exercise also helped developed VDF junior leaders, and that sets up the organization for future success and allows opportunities for growth. It is all even much more impressive when you understand they all volunteered their time to take part in the training, and that spirit of selfless service is part of what makes the VDF such a great organization. We owe them a special thanks for everything they do.”

A member of the Virginia Defense Force provides administrative support for a Virginia National Guard unit staged Oct. 1, 2022, in Norfolk, Virginia, during the VNG’s response to severe weather.

During the VNG’s response to Hurricane Ian, members of the Virginia Defense Force were on duty to provide logistics, administrative and operations center support for the response teams at multiple locations in the state. Personnel from the VNG Joint Force Headquarters Virginia J4 / G4 Logistics Directorate, VDF and task force coordinated to distribute mission essential equipment such as hundreds of meals, dozens of life vests and radios to five staging locations.

“The VDF logged more than 1,100 safe miles while distributing these critical supplies, and they were essential in ensuring the Virginia National Guard was postured to respond when called upon,” said Lt. Col. Justin Linza, deputy J4.

The VDF expanded their mission support for this response compared to previous events with personnel deploying to multiple VNG staging locations to provide administrative and logistical support. VDF personnel also provided day and night shift operations center augmentation at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center and the VNG Joint Operations Operations as well as public information information support.

Members of the VDF conducted communications, security operations and classroom training August 5-7, 2022, at Fort Pickett, Virginia, during a Multi-day Unit Training Assembly. Personnel participated in security training focused on traffic control and communications training in the VDF’s Mobile Communication Platforms. Classroom training covered a variety of topics including operations center augmentation and first aid. It was the first time since March 2020 the VDF conducted a large scale in person multi-day training event.

“This is our first time back together at Fort Pickett in two and half years, and our priority is getting back to basics,” Brig. Gen. (Va.) Justin P. Carlitti Sr., the VDF commanding general, said to the group gathered in formation at the end of the weekend. “All the skills we have been practicing we are going to continue to reinforce, and based on our conversations with the Adjutant General, we will also look at possible new missions,” Carlitti said. “The VDF is a vibrant organization, and we are going to make it even more dynamic, more alive, and it all because of the volunteers who continue to serve their fellow Virginians.”One of the new initiatives during the MUTA was the Support Operations Group “beta testing” its Training Services with the mission of providing training support to the entire VDF.“While selected SOG Recruiting and Retention Battalion personnel and TS instructors conducted monthly recruiting orientation and Initial Entry Training at Waller Depot, other TS instructors ran the Guard and Traffic Direction classes at MUTA for other VDF members,” explained Col. (Va.) Donald J. Thornley, commander of the Support Operations Group. “Additionally, the SOG Chaplain Services provided mental health training, the Medical Services taught first aid and other SOG personnel joined a 1st Regiment instructor to run the Battle Captains Course for G3 Operations Section.”

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.

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

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 Serving Virginians.”

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


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.