Attorney General Jason Miyares is warning that the latest congressional budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2023 will cut funding for the Virginia Army National Guard (VANG) Counter Drug unit program by about 10 percent, eliminating several positions.
“The current proposed budget reductions would result in the loss of five VNG Counter Drug Unit analysts across the Commonwealth, one of which would be lost in Southwest Virginia. The loss of this analyst in SWVA would leave only two VANG Counter Drug analysts to provide support for the 52 counties in the Western District of Virginia. As you are both aware, this region is already underserved, underfunded, and has long been nearest the epicenter of the opioid crisis in our country,” Miyares said in a letter sent to Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) as well as Representatives Ben Cline (R-VA-06) and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10).
All four legislators are on the budget committees in their chambers. Cline and Wexton are also both members of the House Appropriations Committee.
“Fighting back against the opioid epidemic should be a priority of every elected official. There is not a community left untouched by opioid addiction. Cutting funding for units specifically designed to aid law enforcement in their drug investigations and prosecutions would be a step backward,” Miyares said in a press release. “57 Southwestern Virginia leaders have joined this letter because these proposed cuts would significantly hurt their region, which is already underserved, underrepresented and has been deeply affected by the epidemic.”
Miyares said the letter was signed by all the sheriffs and commonwealth attorneys from southwest Virginia.
“The VANG Counter Drug Units are instrumental partners to law enforcement agencies across the Commonwealth of Virginia,” the letter states. “Their support is especially significant to law enforcement agencies in Southwest Virginia, where most agencies do not have the budgetary resources to hire analysts. The VANG Counter Drug Units work in tandem with United States Marshals Service (USMS) offices throughout the Commonwealth to support local law enforcement agencies. These full-time, active-duty VANG analysts are housed in USMS offices, provided necessary equipment to conduct and aid investigations, and trained by USMS staff.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network.
This article originally appeared in The Virginia Star. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard. Republished with permission.