ROANOKE, Va. –
The Virginia Army National celebrated the opening of their new Roanoke-area recruiting storefront with a ribbon cutting and open house Aug. 12, 2023, in Roanoke, Virginia. Staff Sgt. James Maish and Sgt. Dylan Osborne cut the ribbon for the new location, joined by Brig. Gen. K. Weedon Gallagher, VNG Assistant Adjutant General - Army, Maj. Kim Wynn, commander of the VaARNG Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Martha Hooker, chair of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, and Master Sgt. Jessica Dickenson, recruiting supervisor for the Roanoke area.
“We know the Shenandoah Valley very well as our Soldiers live and work in the fabric of the area,” Gallagher said. “It’s particularly rewarding to open this facility here in Roanoke. Our recruiters will be here frequently and at your convenience, not to mention dozens of other cities throughout the commonwealth. Our Soldiers train in nearby Lexington, Lynchburg, Rocky Mount and Troutville, and this facility will be a rally point for these units and Soldiers. It will also be a rally point for fellow Virginians to learn about the Virginia Army National Guard and our Soldiers.”
The 1,600 square foot office will house at least three Virginia Army National Guard recruiters, as well as additional staff from within the Recruiting and Retention Battalion. The storefront will serve as a recruiting hub for the entire greater Roanoke area, and provide support to Virginia Army National Guard units including the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, the Rocky Mount-based 229th Chemical Company and the Troutville-based 29th Infantry Division Band.
“Thank you for coming home,” Hooker said. “We welcome you, and we are here to serve you as you serve our community and beyond. We want you to know that we want to do everything we can to make this a great location for you.”
At their new storefront, recruiters will walk potential applicants through the process of joining the Virginia Army National Guard, and will be on hand to answer questions about the benefits of serving, which include up to $20,000 a year in state tuition assistance, paid training, low-cost health, dental and life insurance and additional military benefits, like qualifying for VA home loans. Learn more about incentives for joining the VaARNG at https://ngpa.us/26510
Gallagher also emphasized how the storefront is easily accessible and makes Soldiers more approachable.
“This facility presents a touchpoint for fellow Virginians to learn more about the VaARNG,” he said. “We realize young people today have many options for where to work and devote their skills, time and energy. We would like to have a chance to let them know about opportunities in the VaARNG, the kind of skills they can learn and the benefits of military service for them and their families. Beyond the benefits, serving in the National Guard is a chance to be part of team, give back to your community and help defend our nation and the freedoms we hold so dear.”
Wynn emphasized to the attendees that “everyone is a recruiter” and talked about how Virginia residents can earn $1,000 with the Referral Enlistment Program, or REP. The program provides a $1,000 for each referral who enlists into the Virginia Army National Guard and completes their required training. More information on the REP can be found at https://ngpa.us/25866
She said the referral program allows for civilians who know men or women who would be excellent members of the Virginia National Guard to earn $1,000 for every recruit who enlists and completes training, and citizens can earn it multiple times.
“If you bring in five leads who enlist in the Virginia National Guard, I will bring you five separate $1,000 checks,” she said.
“The Guard is a family, based in our community,” Wynn said. “If things happen in the area, it is these Soldiers who serve, and they are people you know and people your families knows.”
The new Roanoke storefront is the latest of the Virginia National Guard's expansion into the area after a groundbreaking ceremony was held March 2, 2023, for the Roanoke Regional Readiness Center Complex in Troutville, Virginia. The current complex officially opened in August 2017 and is the home of the 29th Infantry Division Band and Field Maintenance Shop #10.
The expansion will increase the maintenance capabilities and provide training, administrative and storage space for two additional units using a combination of new construction and renovation of existing buildings. Read more at https://ngpa.us/26462
Dickenson recognized the community partners who operate businesses in the same office park as the new recruiting storefront.
“When we said we wanted to do a grand opening, they said let’s do this together,” she said and added they all expressed their support for the Guard and were happy to have them as neighbors.
She also acknowledged the team effort of Soldiers and families to get everything ready for the open house.
“Everything about this event is everything the Guard is,” she said. “It is family, it is community, and we are so happy to be in Roanoke to celebrate all of it.”
About the Virginia Army National Guard:
The Virginia Army National Guard is a unique dual-status force comprised of more than 7,000 Soldiers spread across communities throughout Virginia. It has a federal mission to provide a combat reserve for the U.S. Army and a state mission to provide a domestic response force to defend the commonwealth. These Soldiers live, work and serve in the same communities and are often called upon to help their fellow citizens during times of need. National Guard Soldiers can also be federally mobilized for deployments both at home and abroad. Most members of the National Guard serve part-time, usually just one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer for annual training. The part-time nature of the National Guard means Soldiers can pursue careers and higher education goals while serving their nation, as well as their community and state.