RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Defense Force celebrated its 35th anniversary with a cake-cutting ceremony April 18, 2019, at the Sergeant Bob Slaughter Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. With historical roots dating back to World War I, the modern Virginia Defense Force was formally reestablished in 1984, and Virginia General Assembly Joint Resolution 864 commends the VDF on its 35th anniversary.
“The Defense Force is absolutely a critical partner bringing critical skills to the Virginia National Guard and the commonwealth,” Williams said. “Without you, we couldn’t do support to civil authorities. The untold hours you volunteer are amazing.”
Carlitti stressed the importance of service and the sense of volunteerism and selflessness exhibited by members of the VDF.
“It truly is about the service,” he said. “Whether it was the Virginia Volunteers from World War I, the Virginia Protective Force or State Guard during World War II and here today with the Virginia Defense Force, it is all about service to the commonwealth and service to our fellow citizens. We are extremely proud of the role we play.”
VDF history traces back to the Virginia Volunteers in World War I, the Virginia Protective Force and Virginia State Guard in World War II, and the Virginia State Guard was formally reestablished on April 18, 1981, and is recognized as the birthday of the modern VDF. The Virginia General Assembly amended the Code of Virginia March 1, 1986, to change the name of the Virginia State Guard to the Virginia Defense Force.
The VDF is authorized by the Code of the Virginia as the all-volunteer reserve of the Virginia National Guard and serves as a force multiplier integrated into all Guard 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.
Full text of the resolution is copied below:
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 864
Offered February 8, 2019
Commending the Virginia Defense Force
Patrons– Rodman, Adams, D.M., Ayala, Carr, Cole, Delaney, Fowler, Heretick, Hope, Kory, Landes, Lindsey, Rasoul, Reid and Ware; Senators: Boysko, Ebbin, Edwards, Marsden, McClellan, Peake, Reeves, Spruill and Wagner
WHEREAS, the Virginia Defense Force, one of the three components of the Virginia state military, along with the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia Air National Guard, traces its history and tradition of citizen-soldier service to the founding of the Virginia Militia in Jamestown in 1607; and
WHEREAS, in response to the 1917 federalization of the Virginia National Guard, the Commonwealth created the Virginia State Volunteers to support civil authorities; they were soon renamed the Virginia Volunteers and guarded bridges, waterways, fuel storage areas, and public buildings and facilities; and
WHEREAS, the Virginia Volunteers were deactivated in 1921 when the Virginia National Guard returned home from World War I; and
WHEREAS, following the 1940 Nazi defeat of the French army, 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; and
WHEREAS, in 1944, the Virginia General Assembly changed the name of the Virginia Protective Force to the Virginia State Guard; it was deactivated when the Virginia National Guard returned from federal service in June 1947; and
WHEREAS, 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; and
WHEREAS, 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; and
WHEREAS, 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; and
WHEREAS, 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 for all Virginia National Guard domestic operations; and
WHEREAS, for 35 years, members of the Virginia Defense Force have volunteered their time, skills, energy, and expertise, providing countless hours of dedicated service supporting the Virginia National Guard as part of the state emergency response team that assists their fellow Virginians during times of need; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly hereby commend the Virginia Defense Force and its dedicated members for their devotion to duty and their many outstanding and valuable contributions to the safety of citizens of the Commonwealth; and, be it
RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to Brig. Gen. (Va.) Justin P. Carlitti, Sr., on behalf of the Virginia Defense Force members under his command as an expression of the General Assembly’s gratitude for their 35 years of dedication to the citizens of the Commonwealth.