Va. Guard units celebrate holidays with loved ones

WASHINGTON – This will be a Christmas to remember for Virginia’s National Guard families.

For the first time since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, all of Virginia’s Army and Air guard units are home for the holidays, according to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office.

To recognize those 11 years of sacrifice that saw countless overseas deployments for the state’s guard members, McDonnell has declared December as National Guard Appreciation and Recognition Month.

“Whether defending our freedoms abroad or securing our communities during times of natural disasters at home these courageous individuals have demonstrated what it means to serve with honor. This holiday season, as we give thanks for our freedoms and families, we should remember these patriots,” he said in a written statement.

Since, September 2001, more than 15,000 Virginia Guard soldiers and airmen deployed for Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and other areas of the world. Ten Guard soldiers have been killed, the governor’s office said.

McDonnell has called on the guard twice this year to respond to the June Derecho and superstorm Sandy in October.

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