Vt. National Guard members depart for deployment to Middle East, Asia

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) "At this moment, I couldn't be more proud of my son," Paula Lee said.

Paula Lee's son is one of about 60 Vermont National Guard members deploying to the Middle East and southwest Asia. Thursday morning, she and other families saw their Guard members off for their yearlong mission.

The Guard will provide air ambulance service and evacuations on the battlefield using their six Black Hawk helicopters. Their medevac unit will help members of the Missouri National Guard in combat zones. For security reasons, the Guard isn't giving specifics on where they will be stationed but we know they will be in harm's way.

"I've been training for this for a long time," Spc. Jason Lee said.

He joined the Guard about nine years ago. This is his first deployment.

The soldiers got advanced medical training and the Guard says they're experts at saving people on the front lines.

"I'm excited to do my job and save some lives and do what we do," Spc. Lee said.

But he recognizes the danger and the sacrifice his family is making, too.

"I'm sure they're going to miss me while I'm gone," he said.

"This is my first time having my son deployed," mom Paula Lee said. "So there's a little anxiety and apprehension there because of the unknown. We don't know what's going to happen there. No crystal ball to tell us everything is going to be totally safe."

At first, Paula Lee didn't want her son to join the military; it scared her. It still does but she says it's been the right path for him.

"We can see our children become these strong individuals," she said.

And as our soldiers head out on this tour of duty, Gov. Phil Scott reminds Vermonters to keep Paula Lee and other military families in mind.

"A year is a long time, a long deployment," said Scott, R-Vermont. "Think about the families left behind as they are deployed defending us and protecting our freedoms."

This is not the large-scale deployment we've been telling you about. The Guard says it is still preparing for a potential call-up of troops that could number into the thousands sometime next year or the year after.