Message From TAG
It's been a busy summer as our Air and Army National Guard have successfully balanced both their state and federal missions. We worked with our state partners to distribute 3.2 million meals to thousands of Vermonters, our testing sites continue to play a critical role in giving the Governor the data necessary to begin to re-open the economy and schools, and our work supporting test kit assembly and Strategic National Stockpile warehouse have been a huge success.
At the same time, Airmen from the 158th Fighter Wing are preparing to begin individual and small group deployments, leaving as early as this month through November. Meanwhile, 3-172nd Infantry Battalion (MTN) and the 172nd Military Police Detachment are ramping up for their departures in just a few months and hundreds more of our Soldiers are preparing for their deployments later in 2021.
All of this demonstrates our readiness to respond when called, and no surprise to me, we have answered that call. Our members and their families are the backbone of our readiness, and we cannot achieve our mission without you. In response to the national conversation examining systemic racism, we held a series of town halls focused on what we can do locally. We continue to work on the recommendations from the Military Women’s Workshop held in November 2019 and are awaiting the results of the Organizational Assessment I initiated last spring. All of this to ensure that we are shaping the Vermont National Guard to attract and retain the best people now and in the future.
Put the Vermonters Ahead!
COVID-19 Relief Update
Alternative Healthcare Facility Test Kits
Many people have been wondering what happened to the alternative healthcare facilities, following their dismantling. The Saint Albans Messengers, Mike Nosek, did a fantastic write up on the facilities. Their article can be found below.
On July 17, Johansen and his team of nine, volunteered for a request from the Vermont Health Department to support the assembly and distribution of COVID-19 test kits, which had previously been processed by the labs themselves. Since that day, the team has assembled over 40,000 kits, freeing the labs to focus on processing tests more efficiently.
Their efforts contributed directly to the State’s ability to conduct over 16,000 tests from Aug. 21-29, as announced by Vermont Governor Phil Scott, who has stated that widespread testing is critical to gathering the data necessary to safely reopen the State’s economy, as well as schools on Sept. 8.
Racism Town Halls
There is #NoRoomForRacism, not in the Vermont National Guard not anywhere. Following the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020, TSgt Kirby Addison took initiative in starting conversations around the impact of systemic racism. The VTNG held three town halls, allowing service members to come together to civilly and earnestly engage in these difficult conversations. These conversations will continue because that is the only way to ensure every member knows they are a valued part of the team.
SAPR/SHARP: NOT JUST APRIL
the Vermont National Guard Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Office lead a socially distanced in-person and virtual campaign, aimed at increasing awareness and building a culture of engaged intervention to prevent future sexual violence.
Events were held from Tuesday through Friday with the SAPR team bringing together more than 70 personnel from both the Vermont Air and Army National Guards to engage in difficult, but critical, conversations.
“These conversations can be difficult,” admitted Lazelle. “But even in just the last few years I’ve seen more people willing to engage and discover ways that they themselves can get involved and prevent sexual assault or harassment.” - Christina Lazelle, JFHQ SARC
Best Warrior Competition
The Vermont Army National Guard hosted the regional Best Warrior Competition at the Ethan Allen Firing Range on August 15th, and 16th! Soldiers from 7 states had to complete a multitude of tasks, to include; The Army Combat Fitness Test, individual weapons qualification, multiple warrior tasks, and a 12 mile ruck march with a stress shoot.
Across the span of three days in July, the Vermont Air National Guard partnered with the Barnes Center for Enlisted Education at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., to host the first-ever, entirely virtual engagement with any African Military Education Program (AMEP) school in Africa: a course on professional military education (PME) and continuing education for Senegalese Air Force instructors, July 16, 2020, South Burlington, Vt. Attendees called in from Alabama, Vermont, Senegal and Djibouti to participate in the virtual workshops designed to ensure the continued skills development of Airmen during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
(Story and Photos by Miss Julie M. Shea)