Brig. Gen. Blake Ortner takes command of the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division during a traditional change of command ceremony July 24 at Fort Pickett, Va.
A leader in Paralyzed Veterans of America's (PVA) Government Relations department is now heading a prestigious Army National Guard division
Brig. Gen. Blake Ortner officially took command of the Virginia National Guard’s Fort Belvoir, Va.-based 29th Infantry Division on July 24 at Fort Pickett, Va. Ortner also currently serves as PVA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations.
“This is really an incredible honor for me to be taking command of a division with such a history for the state of Virginia and Maryland,” says Ortner. “It’s such an honor to take command of one of only eight divisions in the entire National Guard that has done such tremendous things throughout history and the current conflict.”
Comprised of soldiers from the Maryland and Virginia Army National Guard, the 29th Infantry Division fought in World War II and was part of the first assault wave during D-Day on June 6, 1944, participated in peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo and served a two-tour rotation in Afghanistan from 2010-12.
Ortner was commissioned as an infantry officer through the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1983 and served on active duty until 1987. He joined the Virginia Army National Guard in 1989 and has deployed four times to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq and Afghanistan. Ortner is the first Virginia guardsman since the Civil War to command both a battalion and a brigade in combat.
Ortner has served the majority of his tenure at PVA in the Government Relations Department and was instrumental in pushing for the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the 1999 Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act.
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