Virginia Defense Force – Public Information Office

Public Information Office badgeThe mission of the Virginia Defense Force Public Information Office is to tell the VDF story and augment the Virginia National Guard’s public information capabilities.

During National Guard Civil Support domestic response operations, VDF PIO personnel deploy on state active duty to VNG staging locations to capture photos and videos of VNG and VDF personnel in action and assist with facilitating media engagements. They also work in VNG mission command operations centers throughout the state and in the VNG Emergency Support Function 16 liaison cell at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Emergency Operations Center in Richmond to coordinate public information efforts, track mission information, develop information for public release, manage social media and capture photos. During VDF training, PIO personnel capture photos and videos and produce content for official VNG and VDF news web sites and social media.

Learn more about the VDF and see the work of the PIO team on social media at the official VDF Facebook page at

Read more about VDF public information capabilities at

Service as a VDF PIO offers an opportunity for individuals to put their skills to use in service to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the VDF welcomes public information professionals whether they are new to the career field and looking to gain experience or have years of experience as a PIO or PAO in a military, first responder or county, state or government organization or in the news media.

According to the Code of Virginia, the grade structure of the VDF is the same as the Virginia Army National Guard, and individuals with prior military service join the VDF at the rank they held when they separated or retired. Individuals with significant education, experience or industry-recognized certifications in the public relations, journalism or mass communications fields can join the VDF with the rank of E4 specialist and apply for a direct appointment to a higher rank after completing required VDF initial entry training and FEMA courses. The exact rank for direct appointment will depend on the individual’s experience, demonstrated duty performance and potential, and it will be evaluated on a case-by-base basis. Contact the VDF PIO at for more information.

VDF PIO personnel wear a woodland camouflage uniform or can be authorized to wear a civilian uniform based on mission requirements and authorized by the VDF PIO.

Individuals can serve in the VDF in an active status where they drill one day each month, attend four multi-day unit training assemblies each year and are available for state active duty. Individuals in a reserve status report for duty at least one time a year and are available for state active duty.

More information about joining the VDF is available on the VDF Recruiting page at and Frequently Asked Questions page at If you are ready to explore the possibility of joining the VDF, please fill out and submit the Recruit Information Form at to start the process.

Recommended public information officer courses:

IS-242.B: Effective Communication
Being able to communicate effectively is a necessary and vital part of the job for every emergency manager, planner, and responder. This course is designed to improve your communication skills.

IS-29: Public Information Officer Awareness
This course covers basic information about the role of a State or local Public Information Officer. The goal of this awareness course is to provide an orientation to the public information function and the role of the Public Information Officer in the public safety/emergency management environment.
Learn more at

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management offers the following courses several times a year at locations across the state. For the list of upcoming courses, visit the VDEM training web site at

G0290 Public Information Officer
This two day course is designed for the new or less experienced Public Information Officer (PIO) and focuses on essential emergency PIO functions. The course will teach PIOs how to write a news release, conduct an on-camera interview and prepare awareness campaigns. The class is a prerequisite for the Advanced Public Information Course (E388) at the Emergency Management Institute.

G291:Joint Information Center Planning
This one-day course is designed to equip Public Information Officers (PIOs) to establish and operate in a Joint Information System/Center (JIS/JIC). The purpose of the course is to build on the solo PIO competencies gained in the Basic PIO courses and apply those skills in an expanding incident. Participants will also gain a working knowledge of operational practices for performing PIO duties within the NIMS multiagency coordination system.