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NEWS | April 18, 2018

First Lady, AG honor volunteers at annual Volunteer Training Workshop and Youth Symposium

By A.J. Coyne | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

First Lady of Virginia Pamela Northam joined Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, in honoring Virginia National Guard volunteers at the 2018 Virginia National Guard State Volunteer Recognition and Training Workshop April 15, 2018, in Williamsburg, Virginia. The annual two-day event recognizes and thanks volunteers for their efforts in support of family programs and includes training and information sessions on a variety of topics.

“The governor and I thank you so much for your work to promote family readiness,” Northam said. “We are so grateful for the hard-working volunteers here today. Because of you, our children have increased resiliency, better coping strategies and an opportunity to reach for their dreams.”

“As part of a military family myself, I know it’s not easy,” Northam said. “You are often our silent warriors. You sacrifice just as much as your service member with frequent moves, all those training times away from home and work, deployments, reintegration, sometimes with a profoundly different parent than the one who left. But you are strong, creative and resilient.”

The workshop brought together Family Readiness Group volunteers and Youth Program adult and teen volunteers from across the state for two days of training and recognition, explained Vickie Sais, director of Family Programs for the Virginia National Guard.

Saturday was divided into three training tracks. FRG volunteers participated in sessions led by a trainer who shared strategies for communicating with units and their commanders, volunteer recruitment and managing burn out. The Youth Program adult volunteers updated their background information, brainstormed ways to increase program reach and effectiveness, and learned about child development in activities. Meanwhile youth and teens participated in sessions with a leadership educator and speaker who shared stories and wisdom about being independent, communicating clearly, and leading by example, according to Sais.

On Sunday, Northam and Williams both spoke to the volunteers and recognized each of them with a certificate and an award. Senior leaders from major Virginia Guard commands also presented certificates to their respective volunteers.

This was the 10th annual workshop and, according to Sais, Family Programs received great feedback from the volunteers about the training that was conducted, including new training breakouts.

“Although this annual event is focused on recognizing and celebrating the hours of service our volunteers put in, there is nothing that can truly show our appreciation of their selfless service to our service members,” Sais said. “We are grateful for their commitment to making our National Guard ready and resilient.”

“Almost 17 years of deployments for our Soldiers and Airmen, roughly 15,500 Soldiers and Airmen have deployed into theater across the globe,” Williams told the family members in attendance. “That puts an extraordinary amount of pressure on families and employers. During that same period of time we have mobilized well over 8,500 Soldiers and Airmen to support the Commonwealth of Virginia. Without you and without the support that you provide to your Soldiers and Airmen, we could not do the job.”

“Supporting our Virginia National Guard and military families is of the highest priority to the governor and me,” Northam said. “We are grateful for the quality of your family’s contributions to the commonwealth and are committed to making sure you have the support and resources you need so you will always call Virginia home.”

More on this event and Virginia National Guard Family Programs:

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