The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) continues the phased reopening of offices and facilities that had been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Veterans and their family members must call or email their local VDVS office to make an appointment to meet in-person with a Veteran Services Representative (Benefit Services division) or a Resource Specialist (Virginia Veteran and Family Support program – VVFS). All persons entering VDVS offices must wear face masks or face coverings and are asked to not bring along guests to their appointment unless necessary.
Telephone and e-mail services will continue to remain available for veterans and family members.
The following VDVS offices are currently open and accepting appointments for in-person assistance:
|Abingdon||Portsmouth Naval Hospital|
|Big Stone Gap||Quantico|
|Charlottesville||Richmond (McGuire VAMC)|
|Hampton Pinewood (VVFS only)||Staunton|
The following VDVS offices are scheduled to open and begin accepting in-person appointments on July 13:
The addresses, telephone numbers and emails of all VDVS offices are available on the VDVS website at www.dvs.virginia.gov/dvs/locations.
Everyone at the Virginia Department of Veterans Services appreciates the understanding and patience of veterans and their families during these challenging times. VDVS has been working diligently to reopen offices as quickly as possible but only when the safety and health of all veterans and their families and staff members can be assured.
The Virginia War Memorial and Virginia’s three state veterans cemeteries have also reopened:
- The interior portions of the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond are open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from 12 noon-4 p.m. Social distancing requirements are in effect, facemasks are required, and no more than 50 persons will be permitted inside the Memorial at one time. The grounds of the Memorial are open from daybreak until 10 p.m. daily. Details at vawarmorial.org.
- The Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia, the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Dublin, and the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veteran Cemetery in Suffolk are open, but with a limit of 50 persons permitted at committal services. Military funeral honors are provided based on availability of an honors teams from the Department of Defense or a veterans service organization. Details at dvs.virginia.gov/cemeteries.
About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. VDVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans. Today, VDVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs. The agency operates two long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; and provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries. It operates the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s tribute to Virginia’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.
LFCC President Kim Blosser awarded technology leadership award
LFCC President Kim Blosser’s student-focused and technology-driven leadership style has been recognized by the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council, which recently presented her with the Glo Fiber Enterprise’s Dr. Noftsinger Leadership award. She was presented with the award, given to a leader who has served as a catalyst for positive technology-related activity, during the council’s TechNite22.
“As president of LFCC, Dr. Blosser’s vision is that every student, without exception, will have the resources and support they need to succeed and reach their goals,” noted President Blosser’s nomination. “Meeting the needs of the single parent, foster youth, or first-generation college student is what motivates her to work every day to ensure LFCC is open, welcoming, and supportive of the students who need community college the most…LFCC is seen as a leader in the area for workforce development, and Dr. Blosser and LFCC regularly partner with the Workforce Investment Board, GOVirginia, the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, the Regional Commission, and others to ensure the local business community has the needed workforce.”
Technology has been one of the passions driving Dr. Blosser’s career. Her first college-level job was as an adjunct faculty member at Blue Ridge Community College teaching technology classes to public school teachers who were getting classroom computers for the first time. She then became a full-time IT faculty member, and later the chief information officer, which entailed leading IT planning and budgets, managing strategic IT initiatives and overseeing technology purchases, among her other responsibilities.
As president of LFCC, Dr. Blosser has prioritized giving students the option to learn online – in many cases, students can earn their degree entirely online – has expanded the IT department, and has invested in the technology that allows for students and faculty to have more interaction.
The award was presented by Shentel Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Elaine Cheng, who is a founding board member of Charlottesville Women in Tech, and who delivered the TechNite22 keynote speech exploring how to engage, recruit and develop women in technology and how that will determine success.
“What an honor to receive this award – and to have it presented by Elaine Cheng, someone everyone in IT, but especially women, can look up to. Shentel has been such an asset to LFCC for so many years. For instance, it was thanks to Shentel’s fiber-optic system that we were first able to offer distance learning classes nearly 30 years ago. Today, the possibilities seem endless.
“Now more than ever, our students rely on technology as they chase their goals. Who would have thought just a few years ago that we would be teaching our students to fly and maintain drones, or that our technology students would have the chance to join the U.S. Cyber Command’s (CYBERCOM) Academic Engagement Network, allowing CYBERCOM to meet future workforce needs as it defends our nation and individuals from cybersecurity threats.”
In addition to Dr. Blosser, LFCC Workforce Solutions and Continuing Education was nominated for the Innovation in Higher Education Award. The nomination cited how LFCC’s IT program pathways allow students to earn stackable credentials as they begin IT careers, and the extensive work done by program leaders in collaboration with area employers to build pathways in the local workforce.
Virginia Department of Veterans Services to host Memorial Day ceremonies across the Commonwealth on May 30
The Virginia War Memorial will host the 2022 Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 30, 2022 at 11 a.m. EDT. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
The ceremony will be held outdoors in the E. Bruce Heilman Amphitheater on the Memorial grounds, weather permitting. This is the 66th consecutive year that the Virginia War Memorial has conducted this ceremony, which is the annual tribute to all American service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving in our Armed Forces.
The keynote speaker for the 2022 Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony will be Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears. Virginia War Memorial Director Dr. Clay Mountcastle will serve as Master of Ceremonies.
Music will be provided by the US Navy Fleet Forces Command Band and there will be a special tribute to members of Gold Star Families. The ceremony will also be broadcast and livestreamed and feature both live and pre-recorded content including the Commonwealth’s Memorial Day message from Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin.
Veteran service organizations and other groups are invited to participate in the laying of memorial wreaths in the Memorial’s Shrine of Memory – 20th Century.
The Virginia War Memorial will be open extended hours on Memorial Day from 9 a.m. to sunset. The Richmond Cadet Alumni Band and Friends will present a free concert of patriotic music on the Memorial grounds at 2:30 p.m. There is no admission charge for any of these events. Parking is also free but will be limited onsite. Members of the public are advised to arrive no later than 10:45 a.m. to be seated for the ceremony. For more information, please go to www.vawarmemorial.org or www.dvs.virginia.gov.
Those not attending the Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony in person may tune into the live broadcast, which will air on WTVR-TV CBS6.1 and 6.3 or to the livestream available on facebook.com/VirginiaVeteransServices, .facebook.com/VirginiaWarMemorial, and other social media channels to be announced.
Memorial Day Ceremonies will also be held at Virginia’s three state veterans cemeteries:
- Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Dublin. Ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT. Keynote speaker will be Major General Randal D. Fullhart, (US Air Force, Ret.).
- Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia. Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. EDT. The keynote speaker is State Senator Amanda Chase.
- Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk. Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. EDT. The keynote speaker is Command Sergeant Major Scott A. Beeson, US Army.
Prior to each ceremony, volunteers will place American flags on all gravesites. For information on these ceremonies, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.
About the Virginia War Memorial
The mission of the Virginia War Memorial is to Honor Veterans, Preserve History, Educate Youth and Inspire Patriotism in All. Dedicated in 1956, the Memorial includes the names of the nearly 12,000 Virginia heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and the Global War on Terrorism. The Virginia War Memorial is and will always be the Commonwealth’s tribute to those who served and most especially, to those who died defending our freedoms.
The Virginia War Memorial is a division of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and serves as an integral part of its mission in support of all Virginians who have served in our military. It is located at 621 South Belvidere Street, Richmond, Virginia 23220 and is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free, except for select events. For more information, please visit www.vawarmemorial.org.
About Virginia’s State Veterans Cemeteries
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) operates state veterans cemeteries in Amelia, Dublin, and Suffolk, which provide a final resting place for Veterans, Guardsmen, Reservists, Military Service members who died while serving on active duty, and their eligible dependents. The Virginia Veterans Cemetery is located in Amelia, the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk, and the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Dublin. All cemeteries accommodate in-ground burial of casketed remains, in-ground inurnment of cremated remains, and above-ground inurnment of cremated remains in a columbarium. For more information, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov/cemeteries.
About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. DVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans. Today, DVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs. The agency operates long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; and provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries. It operates the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s tribute to Virginia’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.
Port of Virginia secures all necessary federal investment for making Virginia the US east coast’s deepest port
The Port of Virginia® and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today, May 20, 2022, signed the agreement committing the federal government to begin its financial investment in the construction effort to widen and deepen the commercial shipping channels and Norfolk Harbor. Close collaboration with Army Corps has the project on schedule for completion in 2024.
With a group of federal and state officials in attendance, Virginia Port Authority CEO Stephen A. Edwards and Col. Brian P. Hallberg, the US Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District commander, signed the Project Partnership Agreement. The document formally commits the port and the Army Corps to collaborate to deliver the Norfolk Harbor widening and deepening project. Further, it allows the Army Corps to use federal funding to award its first construction contract on the project.
“The importance of this moment in the evolution of The Port of Virginia cannot be overstated,” Edwards said. “This is a modern, 21st-century port, and when you couple our land-based assets and capabilities with the deepest and widest channels — and safest harbor — on the entire U.S. East Coast, you have a recipe for success here for decades to come.
“We absolutely would not be here today if it weren’t for the perseverance of our elected leaders at the federal and state levels, the US Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District office, and the Virginia Maritime Association. Everyone played a critical role in this project, and it is important to thank them for their support and effort. The Virginia Legislature funded the entire project cost up-front with the understanding that the federal government would share half the cost. Today, we welcome the federal government representatives who are here to finalize that commitment,” Edwards added.
The signing ceremony was attended by US Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Shalanda D. Young, director of the US Office of Management and Budget, US Reps Elaine Luria (D-VA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), Jamie A. Pinkham, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Virginia Transportation Secretary W. Shepphard “Shep” Miller III, Virginia Sen. Louise Lucas, and Virginia Del. Robert Bloxom Jr.
The commercial shipping channels from the Atlantic Ocean and into the harbor are being deepened to at least 55-feet and made wide enough to safely accommodate two-way traffic of ultra-large container ships. These features put the port ahead of its East Coast peers and in a unique position to attract more cargo and increase efficiency at its terminals. Edwards said the biggest ships afloat will be able safely sail to-and-from the port fully laden with containers. And, he said, the wider channels and two-way ship traffic means greater use of the port’s vessel berths.
“The benefits of this project are unparalleled anywhere on the US East Coast,” Edwards said.
The final installment of the federal investment, $72 million, included the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The federal government and the port agreed to a 50-50 cost share of the project at its outset in 2015 when the Army Corps began evaluating the economic value of a deeper and wider Norfolk Harbor and commercial shipping channel. The dredging work began in December 2019, nearly two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to deliver for Hampton Roads, Luria said. “I was proud to join my colleagues in securing an additional investment of more than $69 million in the port to expand economic opportunities for Coastal Virginia, the Commonwealth, and the country. This agreement today will strengthen the public-private partnership that supports the Port of Virginia and ensures that the Port remains a vital economic engine.”
“This historic investment through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will allow more goods to move faster through the port, drive significant new economic opportunities to Norfolk, and help bring down costs for families across Virginia and the country,” said OMB Director Young. “This [investment] is in addition to the $150 million the Biden-Harris Administration is providing to protect families and businesses in Norfolk and across the region from the impacts of climate change by building floodwalls, storm surge barriers, levees, and other flood-control measures. I want to thank Senator Warner, Representative Scott, and Representative Luria for their partnership in securing these federal investments to keep this community safe.”
While the project will help drive the port’s cargo volumes, the dredge work contains an important and useful byproduct: dredge material that will benefit regional beaches.
“Over the course of the project, we’ll dredge a large volume of sands – millions of cubic yards,” said Keith Lockwood, Norfolk District Water Resources Division chief. “The US Army Corps of Engineers and Virginia Port Authority are collaborating with the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach to maximize the beneficial use of this dredged sand by placing it along beaches for additional coastal protection.”
(The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VPA owns and, through its private operating subsidiary, Virginia International Terminals, LLC (VIT), operates four general cargo facilities Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal, and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County. The VPA leases Virginia International Gateway and Richmond Marine Terminal. A recent economic impact study from The College of William and Mary shows that The Port of Virginia helps to create about 437,000 jobs and generated nearly $100 billion in total economic impact throughout the Commonwealth on an annual basis.)
Laurel Ridge partners with Opportunity Scholars to bring more education and career training opportunities to students
Laurel Ridge Community College on Wednesday signed an agreement with Opportunity Scholars that will open the door to higher education and career training for more students who come from families with lower and middle incomes.
Opportunity Scholars provides the up-front costs of education and career training – including short-term training – to Winchester and Frederick County students who plan to pursue jobs in their own communities in one of the following high-demand, high-skill areas: public service, healthcare, education, business, IT and trades.
Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser said Knox Singleton, CEO of Opportunity Scholars, reached out to her in early 2018, shortly after she became president. He told her he was very interested in helping secure educations for young people. The two met shortly after and discussed the barriers to education many young people face.
“Knox is a great listener and he and I talked about the support systems that are often missing, and how those missing supports keep students from achieving all they can,” Dr. Blosser said.
She said it has been proven that “it’s better to be born rich than smart” when it comes to an individual’s later socio-economic status.
“We simply have to change that,” said President Blosser. “There is no reason these smart kids who just need the extra social and emotional and financial supports to be successful can’t achieve all they’re capable of achieving.”
Singleton said he was fortunate to be born into a middle-class family, which afforded him many opportunities.
“You don’t get to pick your parents, you don’t get to pick where you’re born,” he said. “This is really about the American dream.”
Nearly half of area students don’t further their education beyond high school, according to Singleton.
“At Opportunity Scholars, that is our mission,” he said. “We want to step in with that half, and we want to help them get an education. We have wonderful partners who will make that happen.”
As part of the agreement, Opportunity Scholars will pay for and provide personal, career and academic mentoring for high school and college preparation, as well as most of the expenses related to earning a degree or certification. Opportunity Scholars staff will articulate transfer pathways from Laurel Ridge to Shenandoah University for those careers that require a bachelor’s degree.
2019 Millbrook High School graduate Tihany Martinez-Gonzalez said she hopes to become an English as a Second Language teacher with the help of Opportunity Scholars.
“Before I met Opportunity Scholars, I was worried – where was my career going to go, was I going to be able to go to school?” she said. “I couldn’t afford it.”
When she arrived in the U.S. from El Salvador, Martinez-Gonzalez didn’t speak English, and learning ESL is difficult, she said.
“When I saw a lot of kids needed help [with ESL], I thought, I want to do that, too,” she said of her decision to teach English.
Del. Mark Keam, who represents Virginia’s 35th District, and has previously served as vice chair of the Finance Committee and chair of the Higher Education Subcommittee, was impressed by the program.
“This is such an amazing opportunity that you’re creating, not just for our students, but for the entire region,” he said.
Del. Keam said he’d like to see Opportunity Scholars extend around Virginia. Rather than thinking of education as a product, we should be thinking of it as part of the nation’s infrastructure, he said.
“It’s the backbone for every other service that America needs,” said Del. Keam.
Learn more about the program at opportunityscholars.org.
Fauquier Health names Amanda O’Neill as 2022 Mercy Award Winner
Fauquier Health recently announced that Amanda, or Mandy, O’Neill has been recognized as the facility’s 2022 Mercy Award winner. The Mercy Award recognizes one employee from each of LifePoint Health’s facilities who profoundly touches the lives of others and best represents the spirit and values on which the company was founded.
The Mercy Award is an annual recognition program established in 2002 to honor the life and contributions of Scott Mercy, LifePoint’s founding chairman and chief executive officer. The award is considered the highest honor a LifePoint employee can receive.
“At Fauquier Health, we share LifePoint’s commitment to making communities healthier, and we recognize this is supported by the good work and service of our employees on and off the job,” said Anthony Young, Interim-CEO of Fauquier Health. “We are extremely proud to recognize Mandy for her efforts on behalf of our patients and our community. She goes above and beyond each and every day to ensure that every person she encounters receives the highest level of care and compassion.”
Mandy was nominated by her peers for the Mercy Award. A selection committee came together to review over 50 award nominations and she was chosen as an exemplary employee who goes above and beyond the call of duty. Mandy is a Certified First Assist in Fauquier Hospital’s OR and demonstrates a level of commitment and caring that transcends the everyday. She respects others in everything they do, educates, and inspires others.
According to Mandy’s winning nomination, “Our staff look up to Mandy as an informal leader because of all of these superior qualities and she is an inspiration to all surgical techs who are looking to grow and become a first assistant.”
Off the job, Mandy is a devoted mother who loves spending time with her husband and raising her daughter. We are so proud to recognize Mandy with this award for her hard work and dedication to advancing our mission of Making Communities Healthier.
Each facility winner, including Mandy, will be considered for LifePoint’s 2022 companywide Mercy Award. The companywide winner will be announced this summer and honored during a ceremony in Nashville, Tenn., to which Mandy and all facility winners are invited to attend.
About Fauquier Health
Fauquier Health is a community health system dedicated to high-quality, patient-centered care in a unique environment that considers the multiple facets of healing and respects the individuality of each and every patient. Located at 500 Hospital Drive in Warrenton, Virginia, Fauquier Health serves the residents of Fauquier and several surrounding counties. It comprises: Fauquier Hospital, a fully-accredited, 97-bed hospital; Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a 113-bed long-term care and rehabilitation facility; the Villa at Suffield Meadows, an assisted living facility; the Wound Health Center and a medically supervised Wellness Center offering health and wellness programs. Fauquier Health also operates nine physician’s offices, including primary care and specialties. More information on Fauquier Health is available online at FauquierHealth.org or by calling 540-316-5000.
LFCC celebrates its 51st graduating class with two commencement ceremonies
LFCC’s 51st commencement exercises were held during two separate ceremonies on Friday and Saturday. The college’s health professions graduates had their ceremony Friday afternoon, with the remainder of the Class of 2022 graduating Saturday morning.
Both ceremonies were outside on the grounds of the Middletown Campus. There are nearly 1,000 students in this year’s graduating class.
“This is a wonderful day of celebration and my favorite day of the year,” LFCC President Kim Blosser told the graduates. “This is what it’s all about – recognizing our outstanding graduates and the hard work that has brought you to this point. For college personnel, this is the event that brings us our greatest satisfaction and pride.”
She noted that resilience and perseverance are needed to complete a college credential, especially in light of the challenges placed before students during the past two pandemic-marked years.
“I know that many of you have been fighting through challenges your entire college career and we’re so proud of you for continuing to move forward and accomplish your goals,” said Dr. Blosser. “Thank you for the resilience, grace and compassion that you have demonstrated. Whatever your journey entailed and wherever it takes you next, you have earned this moment.”
Commencement speaker Luna Chiarito told her classmates there are three keys to success: showing up, dreaming about your future and always welcoming new opportunities.
“Think about your own dreams and goals,” she said. “Sometimes we are so overwhelmed by the challenges we face, we forget it is okay to take a moment and focus on the small things. As you accomplish smaller tasks, you will be one step closer to fulfilling your bigger goals.
“The best advice I can give you is to always push through the most challenging situations, take risks, and enjoy everything that life gives you. Before you know it, you will be showing up for those that you care, dreaming about your future, and welcoming new opportunities.”
Two students were named Outstanding Graduates for 2022, one for the Fauquier Campus and one for the Middletown Campus. The Fauquier Outstanding Graduate was Elayna Caron, who earned her associate degree in general studies, with a specialization in administration of justice, and is heading to the U.S. Air Force Academy this fall. The Middletown Outstanding Graduate was Emma Hockman, who also received the Col. Harry Rusham Outstanding Achievement in Agriculture/Natural Resources award, and is transferring to Virginia Tech.
Additionally, the college has conferred emeritus status to two recently-retired professors: Engineering Professor Bill Lewis, who retired in 2021, and Anatomy and Physiology Professor Ramon Selove, who retired in 2020. Professor Lewis was responsible for creating the college’s engineering program and taught more than 35 different courses during his tenure. Professor Selove prepared thousands of students for careers in the health professions, and his dedication to his students was demonstrated through his creation of the B.O.N.D. (Bureau of Neuro-Diversity) club.
Also, the College Board recently presented Medallions of Recognition to the following individuals:
- Math Professor Frank Borleske, who is retiring this spring – although he is returning as an adjunct professor. Professor Borleske has been with LFCC since the very first day the college opened in September 1970.
- Virginia Community College System Chancellor Glenn DuBois, who is retiring in June after more than two decades in the role. Among the VCCS’s accomplishments during his tenure are transfer agreements signed with dozens of universities, tuition rates that are one-third the cost of those at four-year universities and being the state’s top provider of workforce development training.
- Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons, who continues to teach political science. Dr. Fitzsimmons and SU have forged stronger ties with LFCC, and also were responsible for vaccinating thousands of individuals against Covid-19 through clinics set up at the university in partnership with Valley Health and the Lord Fairfax Health District.
- Dr. Colin Greene, who was the director of the Lord Fairfax Health District – and interim director of the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District – during most of the pandemic and guided local leaders as they navigated how to keep students and staff as safe as possible while keeping them in class. Dr. Greene has been appointed acting state health commissioner by Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
For more about this year’s commencement, including photo galleries, visit lfcc.edu/commencement.