“Three Things” Fall 2020 – VNG Land Component Commander Update
Virginia Army National Guard Team:
We are now in the first quarter of a training year that will be unlike any other. As we leave the comfort of our homes and return to our readiness centers and civilian workplaces, the pervasive threat of the COVID-19 virus to our formation and community is not yet quelled. The pandemic continues to effect all aspects of life; from the methods we use to train our Soldiers, to the way we communicate and connect with our friends and loved-ones.
Last month I had the opportunity to visit some of our readiness centers and was pleased to see first-hand how units plan to keep their Soldiers safe as we return to face-to-face drills. During these visits I talked to Soldiers and from these conversations know that while some are eagerly anticipating getting back, others might be feeling overwhelmed. Below are three things I would like you to consider as we begin this training year and re-integrate back into our armories:
1. “Year of the Squad Leader.” Our organization is nothing if not resilient. When faced with challenges, time and time again, we find ways to overcome and make the best of poor circumstances. This year we have the chance to get back to basics in what I have termed the “Year of the Squad Leader.”
With our forced break from collective training events, we have the rare opportunity to focus on squad-level tasks, flexing our junior Soldiers and NCOs and building teams from the bottom up. While this is not the training year that we could have anticipated, it is the training year we currently have. I trust Soldiers and Leaders at every level to take full advantage of the unique year ahead of us.
2. Return to MUTA 4. It is no surprise to any of you that we are a taxed formation with a plethora of competing priorities. Over the last decade we have been forced to adapt to an ever-increasing OPTEMPO, often making drill periods of MUTA 6 and MUTA 8 the norm for many of our units. While these extended drill periods allowed us to train, we know that they also negatively impacted the readiness of our Soldiers and in many cases their relationships with their families and civilian employers.
Any amount of damage to retention, readiness, or Soldier care is no longer an acceptable loss in this Formation. This training year we will return to the MUTA 4, utilizing the MUTA 6 only when needed and in special circumstances. I know that this will be a challenging transition but I believe it to be a necessary one for the health and longevity of our organization.
3. Family Resources. This is an especially challenging time for families. Many of you with school-age children might be adjusting to hybrid or homeschool, while still balancing the demands of being a Citizen-Soldier. Anne and I are lucky enough to have three grown children, a small blessing during this challenging time, because I know I would have been a terrible teacher.
Thankfully, no Soldier or family in our formation is alone in whatever struggle you might be facing. I want to highlight to you some outstanding programs available to you and your family through our VANG Family Programs Office and other partners and advocates throughout the Commonwealth.
VANG Family Programs: The well-being of you and your family is the top priority for our outstanding VANG Family Programs team. While the lists of programs and resources they provide for us are too comprehensive to detail in this note, I have attached several key resources to this message. To learn more, please contact the Soldier and Family Readiness Assistance Centers Hotline at 434-480-6585 or visit http://www.facebook.com/VAGuardFamilyPrograms for a program map and local contacts.
Virtual Learning Resource Guide: This comprehensive product details resources and support available to you and your family, from free trainings for parents and details on how to contact your local Soldier and Family Readiness Specialist and can be downloaded at https://go.usa.gov/x7btk.
COVID Resource Guide: This is another outstanding product created by our very own Family Programs team as of September 2020 and can be downloaded at https://go.usa.gov/x7btK.
VANG Youth Program Facebook Resource Group: This Facebook group is a great way to stay connected and learn about resources and information pertaining to you and you family. To access visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/vangyouthresource.
Military One Source: Education Consultants can assist you with questions about your child’s education. These one-on-one sessions are free, confidential and can provide you with referrals to in-home tutors and tutoring centers in your area as well as public and private school information. To get started, call 800-342-9647 at any time to schedule an appointment.
VA COPES Warm Line: COVID-19 has upset life as we know it and may cause stress, anxiety and feelings of isolation and grief. The Warm Line (877-349-6428) can provide support and community resources to your family.
As always, thank you for the outstanding work you continue to do for our Commonwealth and Nation. I look forward to seeing you all around the formation.
Death to Tyrants!
K. Weedon Gallagher
Brigadier General, Virginia National Guard
Land Component Commander