COLCHESTER, Vt., June 1 - With about 1,500 Vermont National Guard members deployed in Afghanistan, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie today announced continued funding for a model outreach initiative and a new childcare program.
"When these soldiers were deployed, Vermonters made a promise to them that we would do our best to protect them and their families when they were in combat and when they returned," Sanders said. "All of us should be very proud that Vermont has come up with programs that have become, in some ways, a model for America."
At a press conference at Camp Johnson, the senator and the Vermont National Guard adjutant general detailed how $2.4 million in federal funds alloted at Sanders' request is continuing a Vermont outreach program that has become a model for other states.
"In most states, the flag-waving hasn't translated into substantial long-term support for reservists. They are left on their own to make the tricky transition from combat to civilian life. Some are grieving combat losses, others face divorce. And some end up fighting the Army itself...But as the unprecedented reliance on reserve forces continues - they make up about half of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans - a few states are realizing more has to be done," according to a May 24 front-page article in Stars and Stripes. "The Pentagon and Veterans Affairs are betting that one state - Vermont - could become a national model."
The program allows the Vermont National Guard to hire trained outreach specialists, many of them veterans themselves, to proactively contact returning and deploying service members and their families. The program makes certain that guardsmen and their families receive the physical health care, mental health counseling, and other assistance that they need.
Sanders secured another $1.6 million Supplemental Childcare Support for Families of Deployed Vermont Reserve Component. The childcare services for guard families are similar to those provided by Operation Military Child Care, for families of deployed Vermont Reserve Component service members. The services include programs at state-licensed childcare centers, licensed family-care facilities, or licensed before- and after-school programs and camps.
Watch video of the press conference here.