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CJCS, TAG salute Virginia volunteers

By Staff Sgt. A.J. Coyne | Virginia National Guard | Sept. 29, 2008

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Soldiers, Airmen, spouses and other family members who have supported the Virginia National Guard were honored by both the state's top servicemember and the military's top servicemember at the Virginia National Guard Volunteer Recognition Workshop here on Aug. 23-24.

About 40 volunteers from across the state received awards and thanks from Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the adjutant general of Virginia.

"Family Programs has done a great job taking care of our Soldiers and Airmen," he said. "Families are a vital part of our readiness, not just for federal missions, but for state missions as well. We cannot do it without the families."

During the morning session, attendees also heard from representatives from Operation Homefront, Military Spouse magazine and the Military Spouse Corporate Career Network.

Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Deborah, joined the group for lunch. He too thanked the family members and volunteers for all their hard work and dedication to supporting the military.

Meanwhile, Deborah Mullen traveled from table to table to meet personally with many of the attendees, thank them for their service, and share ideas and thoughts on serving the military.

Linda McNeal, wife of an Army Reservist and a representative from Humor Solutions, spoke and interacted with the group following lunch. MacNeal talked about using laughter to deal with stress and gave some examples from her own life of how she deals with the stress of her husband being deployed.

Maj. Gen. Michael H. Sumrall, assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff for National Guard Matters, and his wife, Paula, also attended the workshop. Following lunch, Paula Sumrall spoke to the volunteers about parents who volunteer when their children are deployed and why it's so important.

"My hat is off to each of you," she told the assembled volunteers. "I cannot say enough thanks for all that you do."

The second day of the workshop featured Col. Marty Wong, director of family programs for the National Guard Bureau.

"The first state volunteer workshop was a huge success and very much overdue," said Vickie Sais, director of State Family Programs. "It was a great time to recognize and thank the volunteers for all they do to take care of families. This weekend was all about the volunteers, the essential piece of our program."