COVID-19 Information

On March 12, 2020, Governor Northam declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19. Our agencies are still working hard to deliver quality services and support to the commonwealth’s veteran and military communities. If you are veteran, service member, or a family member requiring our assistance or other resources.

Please click below to learn more.

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What We Do

The Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs serves the Commonwealth in four critical ways.

First, it oversees the Virginia Department of Veteran Services (DVS), whose mission is to serve Virginia’s Veterans, Guardsmen, Reservists, and their family members, by ensuring they receive timely transition, employment and education assistance, benefits, health care and long-term care and recognition they have earned through service to our Nation and Commonwealth. The Secretary distinguishes and elevates issues and opportunities for Veterans and transitioning Service members in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Of primary importance are the employment, health care, and education needs of our Veterans. With the seventh-largest Veteran population in the Nation and the greatest number of Veteransin the workforce per capita, the Secretariat maintains a particular focus on employment of our newest generation of Veterans who have the current skills needed here in the Commonwealth. 

Second, the Secretariat serves as the primary liaison for the Commonwealth to the United States Department of Defense and its military communities. It leads the Governor’s initiatives focused on relationship building with and support of our military and defense installations and the communities surrounding them. Through the Governor’s Virginia Military Advisory Council (VMAC) and active Secretariat community involvement, the Commonwealth continues to be an engaged host in support of the military and defense missions in the state.

Next, the Secretary oversees the Virginia Department of Military Affairs (DMA), DMA’s mission is to effectively integrate military and homeland defense capabilities into applicable state operations; employ, train, and manage the Virginia Militia, consisting of the Virginia National Guard (the Virginia Army National Guard and the Virginia Air National Guard) and the Virginia Defense Forces; and to ensure the safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth during declared emergencies. 

Lastly, the Secretariat oversees the Veteran Service Foundation (VSF). The VSF provides supplemental funding to programs, services, and initiatives of the Department of Veteran Services when state and federal resources are unavailable. All charitable donations to VSF stay right here in the Commonwealth and go toward providing access and services to Virginia Veterans. 

We are honored to serve the Commonwealth and our Veterans , and look forward to working with you to continue to make Virginia the most Veteran and military friendly state in the Nation.

 

At a Glance: Virginia Veterans Statistics

Virginia has:

The second largest active duty population (Approx 130,000 active duty personnel).

The greatest number of veterans in the workforce per capita.

The second largest percentage of women veterans.

The largest percentage of veterans under the age of 39.

1 in 12 Virginians is a veteran (approx. 714,000).

Added more Veterans to its workforce than all other states put together.

The 8th most diverse Veteran population among the 50 states

*Virginia one of only six states named by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a statewide Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones (MSEEZ).
Learn more about MSEEZ

* Six Virginia College and Universities Ranked in the Top-Ten Most Military Friendly in the Nation [Source]

Virginia is First for Veterans

  • On November 11, 2015, Virginia became the first state to functionally end veteran homelessness.
  • Virginia is the first state to convene a summit, inspired by the Governor's A Healthy Virginia plan, with key Veterans Administration (VA), state, and private health provider leaders to accelerate access to health care for veterans.
  • Virginia is the first state to develop provider agreements between Federally-Qualified Health Centers and the VA (partnerships at 22 sites throughout the state).
  • Virginia was the first state to file VA Benefits electronically.
  • Virginia was the first state to create a unique program to employ former military medics and corpsmen in Virginia’s health systems.

Virginia is #1 for Military Retirees

Virginia was named the “Best State for Military Retirees," two years in a row (2019 and 2020), by studies conducted by WalletHub.com. You can read the full 2020 study by clicking below.

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Department of Veterans Services 2019 Annual Report

We are proud to share with you the work of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS). Please click on the link to read the entire 2019 Annual Report to the General Assembly.  Below are some major highlights of the work performed for our Virginia veterans.

During the 2019 fiscal year (July 1, 2018-July 1, 2019), your DVS team:

  • Filed 79,876 total submissions to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on behalf of Virginia veterans and families, contributing to $3.2B in federal compensation and disability payments to our veterans;
  • Opened two new veterans benefits offices to better serve Virginia veterans closer to their homes: on Fort Lee and just outside NAS Oceana. A new benefits office at Fort Belvoir was opened in FY-2020 (October 2019), bringing the total number of offices to 34;
  • Worked with partners statewide to assist 950 homeless veterans and their families with obtaining secure housing and 292 veterans with receiving financial assistance;
  • Enabled Virginia veterans to receive more than $800M in G.I. Bill benefits;
  • Certified 432 companies in the best practices for recruiting, hiring, and retaining Virginia veterans in their organizations and enabled all Virginia Values Veterans companies to hire over 13,000 veterans during the reporting period;
  • Performed 1,915 burials at the state veterans cemeteries in Amelia, Dublin, and Suffolk;
  • Hosted 41,134 visitors at the Virginia War Memorial
  • Contacted over 79,000 transitioning service members and spouses through outreach conducted by Virginia Transition Assistance Program.

Take the Blue Star Families Pain Points Poll

Virginia’s Secretariat of Veterans & Defense Affairs is proud to promote the COVID-19 Military Support Initiative (CMSI), a partnership between the Association of Defense Communities and Blue Star Families. The CMSI has established a weekly poll to gauge the “pain points” of military families and veterans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage you and your military family members to take the poll weekly, so you can inform decision makers on how this pandemic is impacting your military family. You can take the Pain Points Poll by clicking the image above or by visiting https://bluestarfam.org/pain-pts/.

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News

Newsroom
Governor Northam Hails General Assembly Session That Propels Virginia Forward
Governor Ralph Northam released the following statement on General Assembly action during today’s reconvened session.
Governor Northam Declares State of Emergency, Outlines Additional Measures to Combat COVID-19
Governor Ralph Northam today declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth of Virginia in response to the continued spread of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Governor Northam, Legislative Leaders Pledge Support for Increased Efforts to Prevent Suicide Among Veterans and Service Members
Governor Ralph Northam and members of the General Assembly Military and Veterans Caucus today pledged their support to address suicide among veterans and military service members. The group also announced the start of a public awareness campaign to better connect service members, veterans, and their families with community-based mental health resources.
Governor Northam Celebrates 1,000th Virginia Values Veterans Employer
Governor Ralph Northam visited the headquarters of Carahsoft Technology Corporation today, recognizing the company as the 1,000th employer to earn certification in the Virginia Values Veterans program. Carahsoft is one of the leading technology solution providers in the nation and has grown into a $5.6 billion company with more than 1,000 team members since its founding in 2004.
Governor Northam Celebrates Progress at Midpoint of Historic General Assembly Session
At the midpoint of the 2020 legislative session, Governor Ralph Northam marked historic progress towards a stronger, fairer, and more inclusive Virginia.
Governor Northam Statement on Death of Staff Sergeant Ian McLaughlin
Governor Ralph Northam today issued the following statement on the death of United States Army Staff Sergeant P. Ian McLaughlin of Newport News, Virginia.
Governor Northam Delivers State of the Commonwealth Address
Tonight, Governor Ralph Northam will deliver the annual State of the Commonwealth address. He will highlight the accomplishments from his second year in office and share his vision to continue building a stronger, fairer, and more equitable Virginia.
Governor and Legislative Leaders Launch Session United, Advance Common-Sense ‘Virginia 2020 Plan’
Governor Ralph S. Northam and legislative leaders today announced they will advance an 11-point ‘Virginia 2020 Plan’ of common-sense measures when the General Assembly convenes tomorrow.
New Program to Help Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and Families
Governor Ralph Northam today announced a new pilot program to help prevent suicide and close gaps in access to care for service members, veterans, and their families.
Governor Ralph Northam Presents Historic 2020–2022 Budget
Governor Ralph Northam today presented his budget for Fiscal Years 2020–2022 to the Joint Money Committees of the General Assembly. His proposed budget is the most progressive in Virginia’s history, and makes significant investments in key priorities while maintaining strict fiscal responsibility.
Governor Northam Announces Expansion of Child Care Assistance Program for Military Families
Governor Ralph Northam today announced that the United States Department of Defense (DOD) has selected Virginia as one of just two states to participate in a pilot to expand the military child care fee assistance program, Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood (MCCYN). Previously, only a limited number of community child care providers were eligible to participate in the MCCYN program, which provides fee assistance for families of active duty sponsors, civilians, guard/reservist, and guard/reserve technicians who are unable to access on-installation child care.
Governor Northam Announces Major Donation from Smithfield Foods to Support Programs for Homeless Veterans
Governor Ralph Northam today announced that The Smithfield Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Smithfield Foods, Inc., has donated $150,000 to support state programs for homeless veterans and their families. Governor accepted the donation from Smithfield Foods on behalf of the Virginia Veterans Services Foundation (VVSF) during a special ceremony in Richmond. The donation will be designated to the Homeless Veteran Fund.
Governor Northam Announces More Than 50,000 Veterans Hired Through Virginia Values Veterans Program
Governor Ralph Northam today announced that more than 50,000 military veterans have been hired in Virginia’s civilian workforce through the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Program since its inception in 2012. Virginia was the first state in the nation to create an official program dedicated to improving the employment of military veterans and helping employers develop and implement strategies and best practices for recruiting, hiring, and retaining veterans.
Governor Northam Announces Virginia Awarded $3.2 Million Grant to Support Maritime Industrial Base and Small Defense Business Cyber Training
Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia has been awarded $3.2 million in federal funding to support defense and community initiatives.
Governor Northam Commemorates Vietnam War Veterans Day
Today, Governor Ralph Northam paid tribute to Virginia’s Vietnam War veterans at a special ceremony held at the Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center in Richmond, Virginia. The ceremony was hosted by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS), which operates the care center, and coincides with National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
Joint Base Langley-Eustis Identified as Candidate for F-22 Raptor Formal Training Unit
The U.S. Air Force has identified Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, as the candidate base for the F-22 Raptor formal training unit and associated T-38 aircraft, according to announcement made March 25, 2019, by the Secretary of the Air Force. The announcement also indicated the Air Force filed a notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to assess the potential environmental consequences of the proposed action in the federal register as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.
Governor Northam Celebrates Virginia Women Veterans Week
Governor Ralph Northam today participated in a special kickoff event marking the beginning of Virginia Women Veterans Week and honoring the service and sacrifice of women veterans. Taking place from March 17–23, 2019, this is the second year that the Commonwealth will devote the third full week in March to recognizing all of the women who have served in the armed forces. Virginia Women Veterans Week coincides with Women’s History Month, which serves as an annual declared observance of the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.
Governor Northam Signs Legislation Easing Transitions for Military Families
Governor Ralph Northam has signed legislation to ease transitions for military families relocating to the Commonwealth.
Virginia Joins Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families
Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia was selected as one of seven states to participate in the inaugural Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF). The challenge is hosted by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The other six states participating in the Governor’s Challenge are Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, and Texas.
Governor Northam Statement on Death of Army Captain Andrew Ross
Governor Ralph Northam issued the following statement today on the death of United States Army Captain Andrew Ross of Lexington, Virginia.
59 Schools Earn Virginia Purple Star Awards for Meeting Needs of Military Children and Families
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on the Educational Opportunity for Military Children are recognizing 59 schools as “Purple Star” schools. The Purple Star designation is awarded to military-friendly schools that have demonstrated their commitment to meeting the needs of military-connected students and their families.
Governor Northam Celebrates Grand Opening of New State Veterans Office at the Pentagon
Governor Ralph Northam today attended the grand opening for the new Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) office at the Pentagon in Arlington. The space was secured earlier this year and construction of the office was recently completed. The office will help the thousands of Virginia veterans, transitioning service members, and their families who work at the United States Department of Defense (DoD) headquarters identify and receive state and federal benefits. The Virginia Department of Veterans Services operates 31 benefit offices, including the Pentagon location, throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Governor Northam Recognizes Businesses for Commitment to Hiring Virginia Veterans
Governor Ralph Northam today recognized businesses and government agencies for their ongoing commitment to creating employment opportunities for Virginia’s military veterans at the 2018 Virginia Workforce Conference, hosted by the Virginia Chamber Foundation.
Governor Northam Signs Executive Order Transferring Department of Military Affairs to Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs
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.
Governor Northam Announces Partnership to Promote Hiring at Newport News Shipbuilding
Governor Ralph Northam today announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia is initiating a unique partnership with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (NYSE:HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division to support a major hiring initiative. Newport News Shipbuilding anticipates hiring almost 7,000 people, including the creation of 2,000 new jobs, in the City of Newport News over the next five years.
Governor Northam Announces $1.9 Million Troops to Teachers Grant
Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia has received a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to expand the Commonwealth’s efforts to recruit retired and retiring veterans for second careers as teachers.
Governor Northam Announces Recipients of 2018 Governor’s Awards for Public Service
Governor Ralph Northam today announced the recipients of the 2018 Governor’s Public Service Awards during a ceremony at the Executive Mansion. The awards honor state employees in seven categories who have demonstrated exemplary service to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Governor Northam Announces the Virginia Department of Defense Contract Spending Impact Tool
Governor Ralph Northam today announced the release of the latest update of the Virginia Department of Defense (DoD) Contract Spending Impact Tool, featuring supply-chain mapping of DoD contract awards.
Governor Northam Designates May 6 – 12 as Virginia Public Service Week
Governor Ralph Northam has proclaimed the week of May 6 – 12, 2018 as Public Service Week in Virginia to celebrate the commitment and dedication of 713,000 individuals who serve the Commonwealth in federal, state and local jobs.
Governor Northam Designates March 29th & 30th To Honor Service of Virginia’s Vietnam War Veterans
Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia will honor and celebrate the service of Virginia’s Vietnam War Veterans on March 29th and 30th.
Virginia Celebrates First Women Veterans Week in the Commonwealth
Governor Ralph Northam announced today that Virginia’s inaugural Women Veterans Week will be celebrated March 18-24. Women Veterans Week will be celebrated the third full week of March in succeeding years, as a time to honor the service and
Governor Northam Statement on Single Public Meeting in Virginia to Discuss Offshore Drilling Plan
Governor Ralph Northam released the following statement today reiterating his opposition to the Trump administration’s plans to expand offshore drilling off of all U.S. waters and calling on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to host
Governor Northam Announces Administration Appointments
Governor Ralph Northam announced additional appointments to his Administration today.
Governor-Elect Ralph Northam Announces Administration Appointments
Governor-elect Ralph Northam today announced key appointments for senior leadership positions within his administration.

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