I hope that everyone is enjoying our fine summer weather and taking advantage of all the opportunities our Commonwealth provides for recreation and summer fun. I am enjoying getting out and meeting all of you that have served and are continuing to serve our nation so faithfully. If you have issues of concern–especially those of concern to you as a veteran, please contact my office and let me know. Now is the time when we are preparing for the next General Assembly session and, as always, your input on our efforts to improve the lives of Virginia’s veterans is valued.
In this edition I have included information on Independence Day activities at Fort Lee, Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights; an announcement of a record gift to the Virginia War Memorial; information on two recent ceremonial bill signings of interest to veterans; and current information on the economic impact of Defense spending in Virginia.
Independence Day Activities
Fourth at the Fort
Fort Lee will be holding their annual Fourth at the Fort event on Independence Day at Williams Stadium. Admission to the July 4 event is free and open to the public. All installation access gates are scheduled to be open to the public beginning at 1:30 p.m. Individuals 18 years of age or older will need to present a valid state or government-issued identification card, with photo, to access the installation. All state licenses will be scanned by security personnel. Personal pyrotechnics, tailgating, coolers, smoking or pets are not permitted in or around the event area. Only clear or mesh bags can be carried into the stadium and they are subject to search by security personnel
The rock band Trademark kicks off the entertainment with the first of two sets at 5:15 p.m., followed by a second performance around 6:15 p.m. Musicians from the 392nd Army Band will follow around 7:30 p.m. Fireworks will begin around 9:35 p.m. Postponements or cancellations due to severe weather will be announced through social media.
The Independence Day event includes food and beverage vendors, music and the KidZone inflatables and games. Tickets will be required for each attraction. They can be purchased for $1 each or a $20 unlimited-access pass is available.
For those with access to Fort Lee there is a 50 gun salute at Williams Stadium at Noon on the 4th.
Chesterfield County will hold their free Independence Day celebration at the county fairgrounds (10300 Courthouse Road across from L.C. Bird High School). The celebration includes an activity area for children ($5 wristband allows children’s amusements and inflatables), food vendors, and special entertainment. No alcohol, glass bottles, pets or personal fireworks are allowed. Blankets or lawn chairs are recommended. Limited parking is available and roads leading to fairgrounds will be closed when parking lots are full. Don’t miss this fun-filled event for all ages. Gates open at 5 p.m.; fireworks at dark.
The City of Colonial Heights will sponsor a fireworks display on Wednesday, July 4th in the vicinity of Charles Dimmock Parkway in Colonial Heights. Fireworks will start at approximately 9:15 pm. Viewing for the fireworks will be off Interstate 95, Exit 53 or 54 in the Southgate Square/Walmart Area. Bring blankets and/or lawn chairs.
Please note that Roslyn Landing Park will be closed from sunrise on the day of the fireworks display until the following day. No vehicles or people are allowed in the park during this time.
Rain Date: Thursday, July 5th. For more information, please contact the Colonial Heights Recreation & Parks Department at (804) 520-9390.
War Memorial Receives Major Gift
In a special ceremony, held in the Memorial’s VMI Alumni Hall of Honor on June 21st, which was attended by Mr. Wright, members of his family and friends, members of the Virginia War Memorial Board, and the Virginia War Memorial Foundation and special guests, retired Richmond businessman and philanthropist C. Kenneth Wright was honored with a new pavilion named for his generosity.
The five (5) million dollar gift, which is the largest individual or corporate donation to the Memorial and its non-profit Foundation, will be used to support the educational programs, exhibits and capital projects at the Virginia War Memorial. In consideration of this gift, the Board of Directors of the Virginia War Memorial will name the new addition now under construction, The C. Kenneth Wright Pavilion.
MMAC – Military & Medics and Corpsman
Secretary Hopkins, Senator DeSteph, Delegate Stolle, & DVS Commissioner Newby witness signing
Governor Ralph Northam ceremonially signed legislation on June 25 making the Virginia’s Military Medics and Corpsmen program permanent. State Sen. George Barker (SB829) and Del. Christopher Stolle (HB915) sponsored the bills in the General Assembly that made the pilot initiative approved in 2016 permanent. The program is administered by the Department of Veterans Service and provides training and assistance to former military medics and corpsman in obtaining credentials and jobs in the civilian health care system.
Bon Secours, Sentara, Chesapeake Regional, Riverside, Carilion Clinic, Inova Health System, Novant Health UVA, and the Virginia Department of Corrections are participating. Since the program’s inception, 76 veterans have been hired and 43 have met qualifications applicable to their new jobs based on skills learned in the military.
Delegate John McGuire’s HB737 adds a veteran ID to the Virginia driver’s license and was ceremonially signed into law by Governor Northam on 26 June.
Bills attempting to get this identifier added have been proposed numerous time in the past and ultimately resulted in the current Veteran ID card issued by DMV at a cost of $10.00. This new veteran identifier will be added free without additional charge (other than normal driver’s license renewal/replacement fees) upon presentation of a DD214 at the time of renewal/replacement. The law was effective 1 July and Delegate McGuire received the first license on 2 July.
Economic Impact of Defense Spending in the Commonwealth
Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs recently distributed a fact sheet on the Defense spending in Virginia and its impact. A copy of this fact sheet can be found here. This document describes the over $72 billion in direct defense related expenditures to the Commonwealth in 2016.
In addition, for those who work in contracting, the Secretary also announced they have recently released the latest update of the Virginia Department of Defense (DoD) Contract Spending Impact Tool, featuring supply-chain mapping of DoD contract awards. The impact model provides clear and meaningful details about the current and projected economic impacts of federal contract spending in the Commonwealth across counties, metropolitan statistical areas, and workforce development areas. The model is user-friendly, equipped with links that outline navigating the tool and uses of the model.
Military History Anniversaries
For those interested in Military History, items of interest for July can be found here.
You might also like to check out the WWI Centennial Commission here. They have a number of videos and podcasts that may interest many of you. To subscribe to their Newsletter and other educational resources click here.
I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the coming months. I value the feedback you provide on a continual basis as it helps me do a better job of representing you. You can email me at email@example.com or call me at (804) 698-1066. You can also join the conversation on our social media pages by liking my Facebook page or following me on Twitter.