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NEWS | Jan. 10, 2024

DMA recognizes state employees during luncheon

By Mike Vrabel | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. James W. Ring, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and retired Brig. Gen. Walt Mercer, the outgoing Virginia Department of Military Affairs Chief Operations Officer, thanked DMA state employees during a DMA recognition luncheon and holiday social Dec. 5, 2023, at Fort Barfoot, Virginia. 

During the event, employees reaching employment milestones were presented with gifts, and part-time support staff received certificates of recognition for their role making the agency successful. 

“Thanks for the work that each and every single one of you all do every day, not only in support of Maneuver Training Center and Fort Barfoot, but in support of over 9,000 uniformed service men and women, state and federal employees,” said Ring during the luncheon. “The work that each of you do individually and collectively drives readiness for us as a National Guard, in support of the Department of Defense and in support of the Commonwealth of Virginia. We could not do the jobs that we do without your individual work. The work you do is absolutely vital.”

“It’s always good to see everyone get together like this,” said Mercer. “It’s a time to have fellowship and hang out a little bit in addition to the awards.”

In addition to the service awards and certificates of recognition, Mercer was also honored during the event, one of his last with DMA before retiring as COO effective Dec. 31, 2023. Ring presented Mercer with the Virginia Distinguished Service Medal, and Col. James C. Shaver Jr., the Fort Barfoot garrison commander, presented him with a special plaque of thanks from the installation. 

“Mr. Mercer is retiring after a very distinguished period of service, not only to our United States Army but to the commonwealth through civil service, and most importantly today to the Department of Military Affairs,” said Ring. “He truly brought leadership, dedication and service.”

“Thanks to the DMA team for the loyalty and hard work and doing what you do no matter the circumstances,” said Mercer. “You guys do great work. People see it, and I notice it. It’s been almost eight years since I joined this team. When I look back then to where we are now, I feel pretty good about it, and that’s because you guys embraced what I was trying to do.”

With Mercer’s retirement, retired Col. Everton E. Nevers is now in the COO role. Read more about the new COO at

More photos from the luncheon: 


30 Years: Anthony Price

25 Years: Clint Bailey, Michelle Claiborne

20 Years: Patricia Saunders

15 Years: Jennifer Ellett, Jessica Hardaway, Lalaini Leslie, James Lett, Brandon Martin, Rebecca Moses, Sheila Price, Kimberley Reekes, James Snead

10 Years: Lauren Cougar, Shirley Cooper, Brian Reekes

5 Years: Hanna Asaad, Glenn Chappell III, Curtis Marshall, Timothy Rakestraw, Delores Sears, Ryland Tuck

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