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Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs

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.

Virginia is First for Veterans

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  • 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 You can read the full 2020 study by clicking below.

At a Glance: Virginia Veterans Statistics


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

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The greatest number of veterans in the workforce per capita.

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The second largest percentage of women veterans.

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The largest percentage of veterans under the age of 39.

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

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

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The 8th most diverse Veteran population among the 50 states

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*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]

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.