According to VT National Guard Chaplain Jim MacIntyre, 2662 Vermonters serving in the National Guard and Reserves have been deployed to the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones. And on Monday he joined Adjutant Gen. Michael Dubie and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who announced he’d secured a $3 million grant to expand the outreach program for returning Vermont war veterans and their families. Said Ol' Bernardo:
This funding will enable us to do everything we can to help National Guard and Reserve members and their families receive the help they need as they readjust and transition back to life here at home. At a time when returning soldiers across the country are suffering from extremely high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, these funds should play a vitally needed role.
Sanders also noted a CBS News Investigation released last week found Iraq war veterans more than twice as likely to commit suicide as non-vets. And the Dept. of Defense’s Task Force on Mental Health reported 49 percent of returning National Guard troops reported psychological concerns like PTSD and TBI.
General Dubie said that across the board, returning Vermont Guard troops are happy that someone is actually asking how they’re doing:
We had a soldier who got off the plane down at Camp Shelby. He came back from Iraq, from Ramadi, Iraq. And I said to him, “We’re going to be here for you.”
And he said, “Sir, are you going to be here two years from now? Are you going to be here 10 years from now?”
And I told him we would.
Currently, said Gen. Dubie, there are about 80 Vermont Guard troops in the Iraq war zone, That’s the smallest deployment, he said, in five years.
The Vermont Guard is comprised of 3700 troops: 1000 in the Air Guard and 2700 in the Army Guard.