LANSING, Mich. - Following devastation from back-to-back hurricanes, the Virgin Islands National Guard and the Michigan National Guard have developed a partnership to support recovery of the Virgin Islands capability for future humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
With support of the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., the two states will conduct exchanges and training support operations to maximize the Virgin Island's ability to support its residents if another disaster strikes. As a state not impacted by hurricanes, Michigan National Guard forces and capabilities are available and will be ready to provide response packages and other support to the Virgin Islands as they confront the challenges of future hurricane effects on their territory.
"This is a great opportunity to help our fellow Soldiers and Airmen in the Virgin Islands while learning from their hard-won lessons confronting two major hurricanes in rapid succession. As we help them, we will have the opportunity to validate our own plans and capabilities to support the citizens of Michigan should we be faced with similar challenges. It is a win-win situation that strengthens the National Guard as a whole," said Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, the adjutant general of Michigan.
"While the Virgin Islands participated in Vigilant Guard and prepared for a catastrophic event, we could not have imagined responding to two category 5 hurricanes within twelve days. We were overwhelmed and this partnership provides some assurances that we can respond to our community's immediate needs. The training opportunities derived by this partnership are invaluable," said Brig. Gen. Deborah Howell, the adjutant general of the Virgin Islands.
This partnership is another example of state National Guard forces supporting each other in the face of disaster as seen in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico following Hurricane Harvey and Irma last year. The Michigan National Guard will be the primary responder to support the Virgin Islands during hurricanes in the future.