Keeping Our Promises
As Vermont's soldiers returned from Afghanistan and Iraq, marking the end of the largest deployment since World War II, Bernie secured millions to help fund innovative and unique outreach programs to help returning soldiers adjust.
Vermont National Guard's Veterans Outreach Program, which ensures that a trained outreach worker personally visits all returning soldiers at their home to determine if they need help obtaining medical or mental-health assistance, has become a national model. Bernie has also secured substantial funding to ensure families of deployed Guard members can pay for childcare expenses. The outreach program focuses on four fundamental transitional needs: health care, financial, educational and employment.
"These men and women answered the national call to service. We have a responsibility to help them make their transition from active-duty to civilian status as smooth and seamless as possible," Bernie said. "Specifically, we need to reach into our local communities to make sure all available resources – federal, state and local – are there to meet the needs of these military service members and their families."
The Veterans Outreach Program works closely with local community officials, business leaders, clergy, health care providers, and other community-based social organizations to address the needs of veterans and their families.
"It is no secret that many of our soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are forced to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries," Bernie said. "We're all in this together, and we've got to stand not only with the soldiers in combat, but with their kids and their wives and their husbands."
Making Real Progress For Our Veterans
"We owe our veterans in Vermont and across the United States the care they were promised and the benefits that they have earned in service to our country. While we have a long way to go in fulfilling those promises, I am proud, as a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, that we have made real progress in addressing our obligations to our veterans," Bernie said.