VA Guard leader to meet with lawmakers

By Laura Geller - bio | email
Posted by Shawn Maclauchlan

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - More money and a few key pieces of legislation - that's what the Virginia National Guard says it needs to better serve the commonwealth - and that's what leaders will tell lawmakers when they visit the General Assembly this week.

Virginians could see those priorities at work when National Guard soldiers respond to emergencies throughout the commonwealth and right here in central Virginia. That's why the Guard's commander will meet face to face with lawmakers to plead his case.

It's no secret state lawmakers have a lot on their plates. From transportation plans to budget woes, they'll make many important decisions during the legislative session. No state agency wants to get lost in the mix.

Major Cotton Puryear is the Virginia Guard's communications director.

"We get a lot of visibility when we go on federal deployments and when we return but I don't think everyone really understands the capabilities we provide," said Maj. Puryear.

First on the list of requests are two of the governor's budget amendments. One is asking for almost two and a half million for energy upgrades at armories. The other almost seven million for repairs to aging facilities.

"We've got 20 roofs that have exceeded their life expectancy and if we don't get repairs on them, it's going to start causing structural damage for the facilities."

The oldest armory was built more than seventy years ago.

"It could impact our readiness and ability to respond."

The next item on the list involves bills, which essentially allow the Guard to get ready to respond anywhere in the commonwealth before the governor officially declares a state of emergency.

That legislation comes from some tough lessons learned in the past.

"We were waiting for the declaration of emergency. That's our trigger to be able to move people into place and in the December 2009 snowstorms, we actually had soldiers battling through the snow to be able to get to their armory. Took them a lot longer to get in than it normally would."

Puryear says these measures are necessary in order for the Guard to maintain the high level of readiness Virginians have come to expect.

Wednesday, the adjutant general of Virginia will make his presentation to legislators. At the same time, soldiers will display some specialized equipment in the courtyard. Anyone can view those demonstrations.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.