Maj. Gen. Allan Pepin (right), commanding general of the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, hands the Fort Belvoir garrison colors to Col. Joseph Messina, incoming commander, during ceremonies Tuesday at Thurman Auditorium.

Paul Lara, Fort Belvoir Public Affairs Office

Col. Joseph Messina takes over command of Fort Belvoir

As Col. Joseph V. Messina took command of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Belvoir on Tuesday, he asked those working for the garrison to stand up and be recognized. 

Earlier in the day, he had told one of his children that he had to remember to “write down all the important people’s names,” but he realized the important people are also staff members who were not mentioned by name. 

“What it comes down to is we're a community, and what is a community but people? The Army talks about people, and we will put people first,” Messina said during Belvoir’s change-of-command ceremony Tuesday.

"We must take care of the people who enable this community and our Army. As Fort Belvoir garrison professionals, and in line with the Installation Management Command service culture campaign, we will put people first, which will inform and influence every interaction."



​​​​​​Col. Joseph Messina, incoming garrison commander, addresses the audience at the change-of-command ceremony.

Paul Lara, Fort Belvoir Public Affairs Office


Messina is married to Heather Messina and has five children. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves in 1990. His decorations include the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters and the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.  

During his speech, he vowed to be an inclusive leader when making decisions for the community. 

“Every decision that we make and everything that we do will be informed by how they serve people in this community and in this organization.”

Messina also referenced his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s, saying every family has struggles. 

“We likely won’t know what those struggles are, they probably won’t tell you why they’re having a bad day or are in a bad mood, but it’s our responsibility – it’s our duty to treat every person with dignity and respect and the utmost professionalism,” he said. 

Outgoing Col. Joshua SeGraves took command of Belvoir in August 2020. Major Gen. Allan Pepin, commander of the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, praised and thanked both SeGraves and Messina for their leadership. 

“Today marks the end as well as the beginning of the great honor and responsibility of commanding this significant installation,” said Pepin, who also thanked SeGraves for taking over at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“He personally directed the installation’s pandemic response, engaged and brought our community to the delivery of the virtual town hall meetings and broadcasts, while still meeting numerous requirements of running, sustaining, protecting and planning garrison operations for the future,” Pepin said. 



Col. Joshua SeGraves, outgoing Fort Belvoir garrison commander, speaks during the change-of-command ceremony.

Paul Lara, Fort Belvoir Public Affairs Office


SeGraves was commissioned in the infantry in 1997. He served in Rangers and Airborne units and has experience in conventional and special operations command. 

“It was a challenging time, and Josh led this command in risk mitigation, including adopting operations throughout the pandemic – a very integrated process given the mission of the intelligence, health and wellness community, and the diverse commission units that reside here,” Pepin said.

SeGraves said the past two years had been the most gratifying in his Army career as he thanked his family and addressed his handling of the pandemic. 

“I took command during the first pandemic in a century, and the comparisons between August 2020 and today couldn’t be more different – and quite honestly will always be remembered. It was virtual, social distancing and serious restrictions,” he said, noting that this year's ceremony was the second largest gathering on Belvoir in two years. 

Messina was commissioned in 2000 as an adjutant general officer after earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Massachusetts.  He also has a master’s degree in political science from Northeastern University, and a master’s in national security strategy from the National War College. His previous assignments included serving as battalion commander of the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Belvoir. 

Acacia James