RICHMOND, VA (STL.News) Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins will deploy for federal active duty in the Middle East. Secretary Hopkins is a Colonel in the Virginia Army National Guard and will be deploying with the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division. Hopkins has served in the Northam Administration since inauguration, and has played a critical role in making Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the nation. Deputy Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Kathleen Jabs will serve as Acting Secretary.
“I know I speak for my fellow veterans in thanking Secretary Hopkins for his leadership over the past three years,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia is home to more than 721,000 men and women who have served this country and Commonwealth, and Secretary Hopkins has been an unwavering advocate for our military and veterans communities. While his absence will certainly be felt across our Administration, it is only fitting that Secretary Hopkins would be stepping up to serve our nation with the Virginia National Guard. I am grateful for his dedicated service, and I wish him a safe and successful mission.”
Virginia’s Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs is the Commonwealth’s top official for coordinating state and federal resources to support Virginia’s veteran and military community. Under Secretary Hopkin’s leadership, more than 35,000 Virginia veterans were hired through the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) program, which helps transitioning service members find jobs in the civilian workforce. Secretary Hopkins has overseen a significant expansion in services for women veterans—who make up a larger portion of Virginia’s population than any other state—and has led Virginia’s efforts to increase mental health services and prevent suicide among active and returning service members.
“It has been an honor to serve alongside Secretary Hopkins these past few years,” said Kathleen Jabs, newly-appointed Acting Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs. “I am proud of all we have accomplished thus far, and I look forward to continuing Virginia’s legacy as the best state for veterans, service members, and their families.”
Prior to joining the Northam Administration in 2019, Kathleen Jabs served as Deputy Director of Management and Public Affairs at the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She retired from the United States Navy as a Captain with twenty-seven years of service, and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy.
This spring, more than 500 soldiers of the 29th will begin a 10-month long deployment in the Central Command Area of Operations as Task Force Spartan to provide leadership, command, control and in-depth staff analysis for Operation Spartan Shield. Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division will conduct mobilization training in Maryland and Virginia and then report to Fort Hood, Texas, for the final mobilization training before deployment to the Middle East.