Thursday morning in the Vermont House of Representatives, the head of the Vermont National Guard gave an update to lawmakers on the Guard’s current deployment in Afghanistan.
(General Michael Dubie) "I will tell you, I’ve never been more proud of the men and women serving in the Vermont National Guard. And I would tell you, we’ve never been this challenged."
General Dubie told lawmakers that the 1,500 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan are operating the Bagram Air Base, doing outreach work with Afghani citizens, and serving in traditional combat roles, while training the Afghan military and police forces.
In response to a question from a lawmaker, Dubie also said the Guard is already preparing for the mental health problems that soldiers may face when they return to Vermont at the end of 2010. Dubie said the Guard has tried to anticipate the mental health needs of soldiers before they return home:
(Dubie) "We feel like we are ready, or we’re getting ready, for the return and to deal with the issues that you brought up. But we don’t know. And we don’t know how big the issue will be. But if we run into a problem, we’re going to come ask for help. And that probably means we’re going to need some financial help to assist, to augment what we already have in place for mental health providers. I mean, we could have some big numbers here. Big numbers of people."
You can hear General Dubie’s entire 30-minute address by clicking the ‘Listen’ icon at the top of this page.