Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 44. Military and Emergency Laws
Chapter 1. Military Laws of Virginia
11/24/2020

Article 4.2. Virginia Defense Force.

§ 44-54.4. Organization; definitions.

The Virginia Defense Force with a targeted membership of at least 1,200 shall be organized within and subject to the control of the Department of Military Affairs.

When called to state active duty, the mission of the Virginia Defense Force shall be to (i) provide for an adequately trained organized reserve militia to assume control of Virginia National Guard facilities and to secure any federal and state property left in place in the event of the mobilization of the Virginia National Guard, (ii) assist in the mobilization of the Virginia National Guard, (iii) support the Virginia National Guard in providing family assistance to military dependents within the Commonwealth in the event of the mobilization of the Virginia National Guard, and (iv) provide a military force to respond to the call of the Governor in those circumstances described in § 44-75.1.

Nothing in this article shall be construed as authorizing the Virginia Defense Force or any part thereof to be called, ordered or in any manner drafted by federal authorities into the military service of the United States. However, no person by reason of his enlistment or appointment in the Virginia Defense Force shall be exempted from military service under any law of the United States.

Members of the Virginia Defense Force may serve in either of the following duty statuses:

1. "Training duty," which is the normal service and training performed by the Virginia Defense Force in order to be prepared for state active duty, and which includes but is not limited to organization, administration, recruiting, maintenance of equipment, armory drills, annual duty training, and training exercises.

2. "State active duty," which is the performance of actual military service for the Commonwealth when called by the Governor or his designee to active duty in service of the Commonwealth in accordance with Article 7 (§ 44-75.1 et seq.).

"Military duty" and "military service," as used in this title, shall include the activities of the members of the Virginia Defense Force while in training duty and state active duty status.

1989, c. 414; 2011, cc. 572, 586; 2016, c. 614.

§ 44-54.5. Composition of units.

The organization and composition of units and force structure shall be as prescribed by the Adjutant General.

1989, c. 414.

§ 44-54.6. Members, appointment and enlistment.

The age limitations of § 44-1 to the contrary notwithstanding, the Virginia Defense Force shall consist of:

1. Such volunteers who of their own volition agree to service in conformity with regulations prescribed by the Adjutant General who are (i) residents of the Commonwealth or any contiguous state, (ii) at least 16, provided that any volunteer under the age of 18 shall have the written consent of at least one parent or guardian, and (iii) less than 65 years of age may join the Virginia Defense Force, except that the Adjutant General may, on a case-by-case basis, authorize volunteer members of the Virginia Defense Force to be accessed or retained beyond the age of 65 to the age of 75.

2. Such persons of the unorganized militia who may be drafted to fill the force structure of the Virginia Defense Force or who may be ordered out for active duty until released from such service.

The officers of the Virginia Defense Force shall be appointed by the Governor in conformity with regulations prescribed by the Adjutant General.

Enlisted members shall be enlisted and retained in conformity with regulations prescribed by the Adjutant General.

1989, c. 414; 1996, c. 70; 2011, cc. 572, 586; 2020, c. 488.

§ 44-54.7. Regulations.

Recruiting, enlistment, retention, organization, administration, equipment, facilities, training, discipline, discharge, dismissal, wearing of the uniform, appearance and standards of conduct shall be governed by regulations prescribed by the Adjutant General in conformity with this chapter and federal law and regulations pertaining to state defense forces. Such regulations shall, to the extent practicable, be consistent with regulations governing the Army National Guard.

1989, c. 414.

§ 44-54.8. Administration of oaths.

All commissioned officers of the Virginia Defense Force and such other persons or officials as the Adjutant General prescribes are hereby authorized and empowered to administer oaths and affirmations in all matters pertaining to and concerning the Virginia Defense Force, including but not limited to the enlistment of soldiers and the appointment of officers therein.

1989, c. 414; 2011, cc. 572, 586.

§ 44-54.9. Uniform; rank in precedence; command.

The Virginia Defense Force shall be uniformed and shall conform to standards of dress and appearance in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Adjutant General. The uniform and insignia of the Virginia Defense Force shall include distinctive devices identifying it as a state defense force and distinguishing it from the National Guard or the armed forces of the United States. The wearing of permanent military decorations awarded in the service of the armed forces of the United States or in the national guards of the several states is authorized.

The grade structure of the Virginia Defense Force, to the extent practicable, shall be the same as that prescribed for the Army National Guard.

1989, c. 414; 2011, cc. 572, 586.

§ 44-54.10. Discipline.

All members of the Virginia Defense Force on training duty or state active duty shall be subject to military discipline. Infractions of military discipline by members of the Virginia Defense Force on training duty or state active duty shall be punishable under the provisions of §§ 44-40 and 44-40.01.

1989, c. 414; 2011, cc. 572, 586; 2016, c. 339.

§ 44-54.11. Discharge; dismissal.

Upon expiration of the term of service for which appointed or enlisted, a member of the Virginia Defense Force shall be entitled to a discharge. However, no member shall be discharged by reason of expiration of his term of service while on state active duty.

A member of the Virginia Defense Force may be dismissed or discharged prior to the expiration of his term of service by sentence of a court-martial or for misconduct, inefficiency, unsatisfactory participation, personal hardship or for the convenience of the Commonwealth. Discharge proceedings shall be prescribed by the Adjutant General.

The Adjutant General may prescribe appropriate discharge certificates reflecting the character of the member's service.

1989, c. 414; 2011, cc. 572, 586.

§ 44-54.12. Arms, equipment and facilities.

The Virginia Defense Force, to the extent authorized by the Governor and funded by the General Assembly, shall be equipped as needed for training and for state active duty. The Adjutant General, by regulation or otherwise, may authorize the use of privately owned real and personal property if deemed in the best interest of the Commonwealth.

To the extent permitted by federal law and contracts with the federal government or localities and to the extent that space is available, the Adjutant General in his discretion may authorize the use of armories and other facilities of the National Guard, other state facilities under his control, and all or portions of privately owned facilities under contract for the storage and maintenance of arms, equipment and supplies of the Virginia Defense Force and for the assembly, drill, training and instruction of its members.

Members of the Virginia Defense Force shall not be armed with firearms during the performance of training duty or state active duty, except under circumstances and in instances authorized by the Governor.

1989, c. 414; 2011, cc. 572, 586.