Vermont Guard Deployment Has Wide Impact - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont Guard Deployment Has Wide Impact

Milton, Vermont - December 3, 2009

When the Vermont Army National Guard deploys nearly 1,500 soldiers to Afghanistan next week, almost every city and town in the state will feel their absence. That's because the troops come from just about everywhere across the state.

The Guard members are converging on the headquarters at Camp Johnson this week, armed not with rifles but lots of paperwork. They're undergoing processing for their deployment -- from pay records to medical records.

Capt. Jack Lehneman, who commands Charlie Troop of the 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry, explained, "So we can concentrate on the training and not have to do this stuff."

Some of those who are going to Afghanistan are students at Norwich University who chose to defer their education. Specialist James Chido told WCAX News, "Instead of taking a contract and going, you know, staying on the school track, I decided to go with a bunch of my friends who are at Norwich and are deploying."

Most of the rest are native Vermonters. And they come from every part of the state. Even those who are not going on the deployment will feel their absence because they will pick up the slack here at home. Specialist Meghan Goslin said she's not going but sees the impact. "I work here every day," she said, "so I can definitely tell that people are getting ready to leave. It's been busy."

The deployment will be felt nowhere more than in Milton. The fourteen-member police department will lose four of its officers for the next year. In all, 55 Vermont Guard soldiers leaving on this deployment live in Milton. That's the most of any community in the whole state.

Only Burlington with a population four times that of Milton, is sending that many.

State Rep. Don Turner, who also serves as Milton Fire/Rescue chief, said, "Yeah, Milton is a community of about 11,000 people, so having 55 people being deployed from one area, a town of this size, is a shock to be honest with you. I was just made aware of this yesterday."

Ralph Maietta, a native of Milton, agreed. "That's a lot of people from one small town," he said. "And my wife's cousin there, her son was over there I think two or three times."

It was like this back in World War II, and before that, the Civil War. Just about every Vermonter is affected by the deployment -- especially in Milton, where a high number of residents serve not only the nation and the state, but the community.

Andy Potter - WCAX News

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