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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today signed Executive Order Twenty transferring oversight of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) from the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs. With the majority of the budget for the Virginia National Guard coming from federal funds and the need to increase recruitment and retention opportunities, the agency transfer is occurring at a crucial time to meeting end strength goals.
“The national defense assets that we have in the Commonwealth of Virginia are unmatched by any other state,” said Governor Northam. “The Virginia National Guard is essential to growing our military mission and to protecting these important assets, a charge that is led by the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs.”
“Aligning the Department of Military Affairs under Veterans and Defense Affairs will allow for more streamlined communications with our federal defense partners and better allocation of defense resources for the Virginia National Guard,” said Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins.
“This transfer is a long-planned result of the creation of the Veterans and Defense Affairs Secretariat,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “The Public Safety and Homeland Security Secretariat will continue to maintain authority over the Virginia National Guard in times of emergency. This transfer also recognizes the National Guard’s day-to-day working relationship with the United States Department of Defense and the Veterans and Defense Affairs Secretariat.”
“Our long-term relationship with the Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security and all of our state agency partners will remain a vital part of the Virginia National Guard’s mission supporting the Commonwealth during times of need. The new affiliation with the Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs will leverage its strength in the federal defense community in working to secure and increase funding and support for our facilities and help provide the resources for us meet our overall readiness goals. One of the core missions of the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs is to increase the military mission in the Commonwealth, to a mission aligned with the top strategic goal of the Virginia National Guard. Our dedication to our emergency response partners remains steadfast and was clearly demonstrated during the recent response to Hurricane Florence. Alignment under the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs will help secure for the Virginia National Guard’s future those federal resources that are critical to Virginia during domestic response operations,” said Major General Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia.
The alignment of DMA under the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs will not reduce DMA’s support for the Commonwealth’s emergency management operations, but will change administrative oversight of the agency. Realignment is also consistent with the General Assembly’s intent in having the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs serve as the Governor’s defense liaison in support of military activities within the Commonwealth.
The full text of Executive Order Twenty can be found here.
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