YCQM: March 17, 2013 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: March 17, 2013

Posted: Updated:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

>> Announcer: FROM VERMONT'S MOST TRUSTED NEWS SOURCE, WCAX BRINGS YOU YOUR NEWSMAKERS, YOUR NEIGHBORS. THIS IS "YOU CAN QUOTE ME."

>>> GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE. THANKS FOR JOINING US. I'M KRISTEN CARLSON. OUR NEWSMAKER THIS SUNDAY MORNING IS NEWLY ELECTED ADJUTANT GENERAL STEPHEN CRAY. . THANK YOU TO BEING HERE.

>> GOOD MORNING, THANK YOU.

>> JOINING ME IS DEANNA LeBLANC.

>> JUST THIS MORNING, THE NATIONAL GUARD WAS CALLED POORLY MANAGED AND AN EXAMPLE OF HOW NOT TO BUY MILITARY EQUIPMENT. IT'S COSTLY TO PROCEED WITH THE PROGRAM. SENATOR LAHEY HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN BRINGING THE F-35 TO BURLINGTON. WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO THAT?

>> I DID TALK TO THE SENATOR AFTERWARDS. HE LET ME KNOW HE HAD WRITTEN A LETTER BACK TO A CONSTITUENT. YOU KNOW, I THINK -- I KNOW THAT OUR CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION, INCLUDING THE GOVERNOR, ARE VERY SUPPORTIVE OF THE F-35, VERY SUPPORTIVE OF THE VERMONT NATIONAL GUARD AND THE MISSION THAT WE DO. YOU KNOW, I THINK WE ALL AS CITIZENS AND CERTAINLY THE SENATOR HAS A RESPONSIBILITY TO HOLD CONTRACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR PROGRAMS, AND OUR NATION INVESTS, YOU KNOW, A LOT OF MONEY INTO OUR DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, AND, YOU KNOW, SO WE NEED TO HOLD THOSE CONTRACTORS, YOU KNOW, ACCOUNTABLE FOR THOSE PROGRAMS, AND I THINK WE ALL AS CITIZENS NEED TO DO THAT. SO THE COMMENT ABOUT THE, YOU KNOW, THE COST OF THE PROGRAM AND THEN ANY OF THOSE DELAYS, I THINK, ARE APPROPRIATE. HOWEVER, I DO KNOW THAT THE SENATOR DOES SUPPORT THE AIR FORCE AND ITS -- AND THE BASING OF THE F-35 HERE IN VERMONT, SO WE'LL GET THROUGH THAT, BUT I THINK QUESTIONS ALONG THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS PROGRAM ARE APPROPRIATE.

>> SO DO YOU THINK THE F-35 PROGRAM HAS HAD SOME PROBLEMS THEN?

>> WELL, I THINK THAT THE F-35 PROGRAM IS NOT UNIQUE, I MEAN, IT IS -- LIKE ALL OTHER PROGRAMS THAT WE HAVE HAD, WHETHER THEY'RE AIRPLANES OR SHIPS OR ANY OTHER KIND OF EQUIPMENT, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE DELAYS AND ISSUES AND YOU'RE GOING TO WORK THROUGH THEM THROUGH THE PROGRAM. THE F-35, LET'S FACE IT, IS A VERY TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCED PIECE OF EQUIPMENT FOR OUR MILITARY. IT'S SOMETHING THAT WE NEED. COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD ARE NOT SITTING BACK WAITING FOR US TO, YOU KNOW -- THEY ARE CONTINUING TO DEVELOP SYSTEMS AND THE F-35 IS SOMETHING THAT OUR COUNTRY NEEDS. BUT IT'S, IT'S TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED, SO WE'RE GOING TO HAVE DELAYS ALONG THE PROGRAM AND THE CONTRACTOR HAS ADMITTED THAT WE HAVE HAD SOME HICCUPS ALONG THE WAY, BUT WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO WORK THROUGH THEM.

>> SO DO YOU THINK IN THE END, THE F-35 WILL BE BUILT AND WILL BE SENT TO STATIONS AROUND THE COUNTRY?

>> I DO, YEAH, ABSOLUTELY. I MEAN, THE AIR FORCE NEEDS TO REPLACE ITS FIGHTER AIRCRAFT, LIKE THE ONES THAT WE HAVE HERE IN BURLINGTON. THE SERVICE LIFE OF THE F-16s THAT WE FLY HERE IN BURLINGTON ARE PROBABLY, YOU KNOW, ANOTHER SIX OR SEVEN YEARS AND THEY NEED TO BE RECAPITALIZED, AND THE AIR FORCE CHOSE THE F-35. WE'LL GET THROUGH THE PROGRAM DELAYS AND WE WILL BE SUCCESSFUL IN BASING THOSE AIRPLANES.

>> SO DO YOU AGREE WITH THE SENATOR THAT THIS IS SORT OF A -- BEEN AN INEFFICIENT PROCESS AND DO YOU THINK THAT THE -- THAT THEY'RE GOING TO MEET THEIR DEADLINE AND THE F-35s ARE GOING TO COME TO BURLINGTON IN A SOMEWHAT TIMELY MANNER?

>> I'M CONFIDENT THAT THE CONTRACTOR WILL IMMEDIATE THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE, THE NAVY AND THE MARINES, ALL THREE VARIANTS. THE AIR FORCE VERSION THAT'S GOING TO EVENTUALLY COME HERE TO BURLINGTON. YEAH, WE'LL GET THERE, BUT I THINK IT IS APPROPRIATE THAT THE SENATORS AND THE LIKE CONTINUE TO ASK QUESTIONS AND HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE. THAT'S JUST THE RIGHT THING FOR US TO DO, IT'S THE RIGHT THING AS TAXPAYERS TO DO.

>> WERE YOU SURPRISED BY HIS COMMENTS THOUGH? IT SEEMS AS IF OPPONENTS OF THE F-35 HAVE GRABBED ON TO THOSE COMMENTS.

>> WELL, THE OPPONENTS OF THE F-35 HERE, YOU KNOW, THEY HAVE IN THE PAST TAKEN STATEMENTS LIKE THIS AND OTHERS AND PARTS OF A DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT AND USED IT, YOU KNOW, TO PROMOTE THEIR THOUGHTS, BUT I GO BACK TO THE FACT THAT, YOU KNOW, THAT WE WERE CHOSEN BY THE AIR FORCE TO BASE THE F-35 BECAUSE OF OUR REPUTATION, BECAUSE OF THE -- OUR ABILITY TO ACCOMPLISH OUR MISSION, BECAUSE OF THE FACILITIES THAT WE HAVE, AND ITS STRATEGIC LOCATION AND I STILL THINK AND BELIEVE, AS I KNOW THE CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION AND THE GOVERNOR BELIEVE, THAT THIS IS THE RIGHT THING FOR VERMONTERS.

>> IS THERE ANY PLAN B IF THE F-35s DON'T GET BUILT OR THE F-35s DON'T COME HERE?

>> WELL, THE PLAN B, AS I SAID BEFORE, IS REALLY TO GO BACK AND TALK TO OUR AIR FORCE LEADERSHIP, ALONG WITH OUR CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION, AND TRY TO, YOU KNOW, FIGURE OUT IF THERE IS ANOTHER -- A MISSION THAT'S APPROPRIATE FOR THE AIR FORCE AND VERMONT, BUT, YOU KNOW, WE'VE BEEN FLYING AIRPLANES FOR 66-PLUS YEARS HERE IN VERMONT. WE'RE EXPERTS AT WHAT WE DO. THE AIR FORCE HAS RECOGNIZED THAT. IT'S RELATIVELY LOW COST TO BASE THE F-35 HERE AND GIVEN THE FACT THAT WE ALREADY HAVE FIGHTER AIRCRAFT HERE AND THE AIR SPACE AND WHAT NOT, SO IT WAS THE RIGHT CHOICE AND I'M CONFIDENT THAT IT WILL HAPPEN. WHAT I HAVE SAID AND CONTINUE TO SAY, THOUGH, IS THAT IF THE SECRETARY DOES NOT DECIDE TO BASE THE F-35 AND WE DO END UP CHANGING MISSIONS, THERE'S NOT A LAUNDRY LIST, A MENU OF MISSIONS THAT WE CAN JUST GO OUT AND PICK FROM?

>> WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? YOU SAID THAT BEFORE, ESPECIALLY WHEN OPPONENTS OF THE F-35 SAID WHY CAN'T WE USE THE MONEY TO BUY MORE TRADITIONAL EQUIPMENT TO PROTECT VERMONT FROM A NATURAL DISASTER AND WHY WOULDN'T WE SPEND THE MONEY THERE? IS THAT AN OPTION AND WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY A LAUNDRY LIST?

>> THE NATIONAL GUARD AND THE AIR NATIONAL GUARD HAVE TWO MISSIONS. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BUYS THE EQUIPMENT AND PAYS FOR THE TRAINING FOR US TO PROTECT THE UNITED STATES AND CARRY OUT THAT FEDERAL MISSION, SO THE GOVERNORS AND THE STATE OF VERMONT GET TO USE THAT EQUIPMENT AND THE PERSONNEL AND ALL OF THEIR TRAINING AND RESOURCES TO RESPOND TO THINGS HERE IN THE STATE IF NEED BE, I.E., IRENE. SO IF YOU DON'T HAVE A MISSION, A RELEVANT MISSION, OR IN THIS CASE, IF YOU DON'T BASE THE F-35 HERE, YOU KNOW, THAT WOULD -- BASING THE F-35 KEEPS 1100, ABOUT 1100 MEN AND WOMEN AND THEIR FAMILIES HERE IN VERMONT. A MISSION, WHETHER IT'S, YOU KNOW, A CYBER MISSION OR AN UNMANNED AIRCRAFT MISSION OR SOME OF THE OTHER THINGS THAT ARE OUT THERE, ALL OF THOSE MISSIONS ARE -- REQUIRE LESS PERSONNEL, LESS EQUIPMENT, AND SO THE AIR FORCE, IF THEY DON'T NEED TO HAVE ALL THOSE PEOPLE THERE, THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BE THERE, AND THAT'S A LOSS FOR VERMONT. SO BY WHAT I SAY AS A MENU IS, YOU KNOW, MAYBE YEARS IN THE PAST THERE WAS ENOUGH AIRPLANES TO GO AROUND, AIRCRAFT TO GO AROUND THAT WE COULD, IF IT WASN'T AN F-35, IT MAYBE COULD BE AN A-10 OR ANOTHER F-16, BUT WE'RE DRAWING DOWN ON ALL THOSE TYPES OF SYSTEMS, SO THE F-35 IS THE AIRCRAFT THAT'S GOING TO REPLACE THE F-16, SO TO KEEP ALL THE CAPABILITIES THAT WE HAVE IN THE STATE RIGHT NOW WITH THE VERMONT AIR NATIONAL GUARD, THAT REQUIRES YOU TO HAVE THAT FEDERAL MISSION, WHICH IS THE F-35.

>> SO WHAT IS YOUR TOP CONCERN FOR THE GUARD? WHAT KIND OF KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT?

>> WELL, LATELY, AS YOU KNOW, I TOOK OVER ON MARCH 1st AS MY CHANGE OF COMMAND. IT WAS THE SAME DAY AS SEQUESTRATION AND THE BUDGET ISSUES CONCERN ME A LOT RIGHT NOW. AND THEY CONCERN ME BECAUSE IT'S, IT'S SO MUCH OF AN UNKNOWN. I THINK I WOULD FEEL A LOT BETTER IF I KNEW THAT OUR BUDGET WAS GOING TO BE REDUCED BY A CERTAIN AMOUNT AND THAT WE WERE GIVEN A NUMBER AND THEN WE WOULD WORK, YOU KNOW, WE WOULD FIGURE OUT WHAT WE CAN AND CANNOT DO. BUT JUST GIVEN THE FACT THAT THE MESSAGE IS THAT YOU'RE GOING TO -- SEQUESTRATION HAS HIT, THE BILL IS BIG, WE DON'T KNOW HOW IT'S GOING TO AFFECT YOU IS TOUGH ON NOT ONLY ME, BUT IT'S REALLY TOUGH ON OUR FOLKS, YOU KNOW, OUR MEN AND WOMEN, THE SOLDIERS AND AIRMEN AND THEIR FAMILIES.

>> HOW DO YOU LOCALIZE THAT? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? ARE THESE FAMILIES NOT KNOWING WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT AND WHERE DO THEY STAND?

>> YEAH, SO THERE'S KIND OF TWO THINGS GOING ON RIGHT NOW. YOU KNOW, I'M SOMEWHAT HOPEFUL THAT WE'LL GET A BUDGET THAT'S PASSED SO THAT IT WILL KEEP US GOING PAST MARCH 27th, WHICH IS THE CONTINUING RESOLUTION, AND THAT WILL CARRY US UNTIL THE END OF THE FISCAL YEAR, SEPTEMBER 30th. THAT'S GOING TO -- I THINK THE BUDGET'S GOING TO BE SMALLER, BUT IT WILL KEEP THE OPERATIONS GOING AND THE TRAINING. BUT THE SEQUESTRATION BILL IS THE OTHER THING THAT'S LYING OUT THERE THAT I DON'T HAVE GOOD FIDELITY ON WHEN THAT'S GOING TO BE FIXED. AND UNFORTUNATELY, PART OF THAT SEQUESTRATION BILL IS THE FACT THAT WE MAY HAVE TO FURLOUGH SOME OF OUR MILITARY TECHNICIANS, CIVILIANS THAT WEAR THE UNIFORM MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY. THEY WERE NOT EXEMPT FROM, FROM THE SEQUESTRATION BILL, AND SO WE, YOU KNOW, THE NATIONAL GUARD, THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE NOTIFIED CONGRESS ABOUT A MONTH AGO THAT FURLOUGHS COULD HAPPEN. NOTHING HAS CHANGED THAT SCENARIO, AND IN FACT, EVEN TODAY, WE'RE STARTING TO TALK TO OUR SUPERVISORS TO NOTIFY -- WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO NOTIFY OUR FOLKS THAT, YOU KNOW, POSSIBLY 30 DAYS FROM NOW, YOU COULD BE FURLOUGHED.

>> SO THE TIMEFRAME IS 30 DAYS IS WHEN WE'LL START SEEING SOME OF THOSE IMPACTS ON THE GUARD?

>> THE TIME FRAME IS AT THE END OF APRIL IS WHEN THE FURLOUGHS WOULD HAPPEN, SO IF NOTHING CHANGES BETWEEN NOW AND THEN, WE WILL HAVE NOTIFIED OUR FOLKS THAT A FURLOUGH IS POSSIBLE, AND THEN THEY COULD TAKE EFFECT AS EARLY AS THE LAST WEEK OF APRIL.

>> AND THAT'S ONE DAY A WEEK THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30th?

>> WELL, WE'RE STILL WORKING THROUGH EXACTLY HOW THAT'S GOING TO WORK, BUT RIGHT NOW, IT APPEARS THAT ONE DAY A WEEK, OUR TECHNICIANS, CIVILIAN TECHNICIANS WOULD BE FURLOUGHED. AND IT'S SIGNIFICANT AND BECAUSE -- OUR GUIDANCE HAS BEEN THAT YOU NEED TO CAPTURE, SAVED BASICALLY 22 DAYS' WORTH OF THAT TECHNICIAN PAYROLL BETWEEN NOW AND SEPTEMBER 30th, SO WE'RE ALREADY BEING COMPRESSED BETWEEN APRIL AND SEPTEMBER 30th, WORKS OUT TO BE 20% OF SOMEONE'S PAY.

>> SO HOW MANY FOLKS ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT MIGHT BE IMPACTED?

>> ABOUT 500-ISH OR SO. ABOUT 250 ON BOTH THE AIR GUARD AND THE ARMY GUARD.

>> AND WHAT WILL THIS MEAN FOR THE GUARD AS FAR AS READINESS? WHAT WERE THESE PEOPLE DOING A THAT NOW WON'T GET DONE IF THE SEQUESTRATION CUTS TAKE PLACE IN APRIL?

>> SO OUR READINESS LEVELS ARE GOING TO DROP, THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, AND THAT'S NOT ONLY A COMBINATION OF FURLOUGHING OUR PEOPLE, BUT ALSO THE REDUCED BUDGET IN PARTS SUPPLIES AND FLYING HOURS, TRAINING HOURS FOR OUR PILOTS AND FLYING TRAINING MISSIONS, AMMUNITION, SO ALL THAT, BUT IT ALSO, YOU KNOW, THAT ONE DAY A WEEK IS GOING TO TAKE OUT TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR SOLDIERS AND OUR AIRMEN. I THINK THE IMPACT IS ACTUALLY EVEN GOING TO BE A LITTLE BIT GREATER ON THE AIR GUARD BECAUSE A LOT OF OUR TECHNICIANS WORK IN THE MAINTENANCE AREA. THEY'RE THE ONES THAT, YOU KNOW, MAINTAIN THE AIRCRAFT, SO IF WE REDUCE THAT LEVEL, THE AVAILABILITY OF THE AIRCRAFT FOR THE PILOTS TO FLY IS GOING TO REDUCE.

>> SO DO YOU THINK THESE CUTS WILL COME NEXT MONTH? WHAT'S YOUR SENSE TALKING WITH THE CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION?

>> MY SENSE IS THAT THE BUDGET WILL GET -- WE'LL GET THROUGH A BUDGET AND WE'LL BE ABLE TO OPERATE, BUT I -- BUT BECAUSE THE SEQUESTRATION, I JUST DON'T HAVE A GOOD FEELING THAT THEY WILL SOLVE THAT IN A MONTH, THAT WE PROBABLY WILL END UP HAVING TO FURLOUGH FOR A PERIOD OF TIME. I HOPE NOT BECAUSE I DON'T -- I DON'T AGREE WITH IT. I DON'T THINK ANYBODY AGREES WITH IT, I DON'T THINK IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO TO HAVE THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE VOLUNTEERED TO SERVE YOU AND I AND THE STATE AND THE NATION TO HAVE TO BE FURLOUGHED BECAUSE OF SEQUESTRATION. THAT'S REALLY UNFORTUNATE.

>> WHAT IS YOUR MAN -- YOUR PLAN OR IS THERE A PLAN TO STAY READY IF THE BUDGET DOESN'T PASS AND THERE ARE ALL THESE CUTS MADE? YOU SAID IT WILL IMPACT READINESS AND TRAINING MISSIONS. WHAT DO YOU DO NEXT?

>> WHAT I TOLD OUR SOLDIERS AND AIRMEN IS THAT WE WILL NOT DO MORE WITH LESS. THE GUARD ALREADY DOES MORE WITH LESS. WE ARE ALREADY A COST-EFFECTIVE SOLUTION FOR OUR NATION'S DEFENSE.

>> WHICH IS WHY IN YEARS FAST WE'VE SEEN THE GUARD CALLED ON IN NATIONAL DEFENSE FOR LONG DEPLOYMENTS, GREATER DEPLOYMENTS OVERSEAS.

>> RIGHT, BUT WHEN THEY'RE NOT NEEDED, THEY'RE PART-TIME AND THEY'RE WORKING IN THE CIVILIAN SECTOR, SO THEY ARE A COST-EFFECTIVE SOLUTION FOR OUR NATION'S DEFENSE. WHEN YOU NEED US, WE'RE READY. WHEN YOU DON'T NEED US, WE'RE WORKING AS CIVILIANS, SO WE'RE ALREADY DOING THAT. WE'RE ALREADY SAVING THE COUNTRY MONEY BY DOING THAT, SO WE WILL NOT ASK OUR FOLKS TO DO MORE WITH LESS. WE WILL DO LESS WITH LESS, SO THE QUESTION WHAT IS DO WE DO, WHAT IS THE PRIORITY? AND THAT'S A DIFFICULT -- THAT'S A DIFFICULT QUESTION, BUT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE WILL MAINTAIN IS OUR CAPABILITY TO RESPOND TO, YOU KNOW, DISASTERS HERE IN THE STATE OF VERMONT, STATE EMERGENCIES. THE GOVERNOR NEEDS US, WE WILL BE READY TO DO THAT. WE WILL HAVE PEOPLE THAT EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE FURLOUGHED, THEY CAN STILL COME ON STATE ACTIVE DUTY AND HELP THE STATE. WE HAVE GOOD EQUIPMENT. OVER TIME, THE LONGER THIS GOES ON, THE LESS READY OUR EQUIPMENT WILL BE, SO OUR HOPE IS THAT WE CAN CONTROL THE THINGS THAT WE CAN CONTROL HERE IN VERMONT AND THAT IS BE READY FOR STATE EMERGENCIES, AND HOPE, YOU KNOW -- AND THEN WORK WITH OUR CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION TO GET THROUGH THESE BUDGET TIMES.

>> WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A BRIEF BREA K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K

>>> WELCOME BACK. WE'RE CONTINUING OUR DISCUSSION WITH THE NEW HEAD OF THE VERMONT NATIONAL GUARD, ADJUTANT GENERAL STEVE CRAY.

>> GENERAL, WE WERE JUST TALKING BEFORE THE BREAK ABOUT THE PLAN TO STAY PREPARED ON THE STATE LEVEL IN THE FACE OF BUDGET CUTS ON THE FEDERAL LEVEL, BUT WHAT -- HOW WILL THESE CUTS IMPACT THE GUARD'S AVAILABILITY TO BE -- TO RESPOND FOR CALLED ON FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT?

>> YEAH, THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION, AND I THINK IT'S UNKNOWN AT THIS POINT. THE LONGER THE SEQUESTRATION IMPACTS THE NATIONAL GUARD, THE WORSE IT'S GOING TO BE. SO OUR READINESS LEVELS ARE HIGH NOW AND I THINK FOR THE SHORT TERM, THEY WILL REMAIN THAT WAY, BUT IF WE START GETTING INTO SITUATIONS WHERE WE CAN'T GET PARTS FOR OUR EQUIPMENT, THE MONEY IS NOT THERE TO ALLOW US TO DO THE TRAINING THAT WE NEED TO TO BE PREPARED TO DEPLOY, THAT WILL HAVE AN IMPACT, BUT IT'S NOT JUST US. I MEAN, THINGS THE ENTIRE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE -- THIS IS THE ENTIRE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, AND SO WE'LL HAVE TO, AS A NATION, FIGURE OUT WHAT WE CAN AND CANNOT DO. AND TO BE READY, TO HAVE A MILITARY AS CAPABLE AS THE UNITED STATES, IT COSTS RESOURCES AND IF WE'RE GOING TO REDUCE THOSE RESOURCES, WE'RE GOING TO REDUCE OUR CAPABILITY.

>> YOU'RE LEADING A GUARD RIGHT NOW THAT HAS COME OFF SEVERAL BIG DEPLOYMENTS OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM YOU'RE SEEING NOW? WE HEARD A WHILE AGO THAT THERE WAS SOME PROBLEMS WITH GUARD MEMBERS FINDING EMPLOYMENT, OBVIOUSLY PTSD IS STILL AN ISSUE. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE LINGERING EFFECTS THE GUARD IS DEALING WITH AFTER THOSE DEPLOYMENTS TO AFGHANISTAN?

>> I THINK WE'RE STILL REALIZING SOME OF THOSE EFFECTS EVEN THREE YEARS AFTER DEPLOYMENT. THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATES WERE FAIRLY HIGH WHEN WE CAME BACK AT THE END OF 2010. THEY HAVE DROPPED OFF A LOT, A LOT DUE TO THE FACT THAT EMPLOYERS WERE SEEKING VETERANS AND WE'RE ALSO HELPING VETERANS FIND EDUCATION. WHAT WE FOUND IS THAT VETERANS THAT CAME BACK WERE VERY MOTIVATED AND THEY HAD THE PERSONAL SKILLS, BUT MAYBE NOT NECESSARILY THE TECHNICAL SKILLS FOR SOME OF THOSE JOBS. SO WE'VE HELPED THEM FIND AND GET THAT KIND OF TRAINING. SO I THINK WE'RE MAKING GREAT STRIDES ON OUR EMPLOYMENT. THE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES ARE ALWAYS VERY DISTURBING IN THE FACT THAT, YOU KNOW, WE'RE WORKING WITH FOLKS, BUT THOSE EFFECTS ARE NOT BEING REALIZED UNTIL YEARS AFTERWARDS. CONCERNED, VERY CONCERNED ON SUICIDE RATES AMONG VETERANS. IT'S A NATIONAL ISSUE. YOU KNOW, WE DEAL WITH IT HERE IN VERMONT, BUT IT IS ALSO A NATIONAL ISSUE, SOMETHING THAT WE NEED TO GET -- AS A NATION, GET OUR ARMS AROUND AND IT'S A VERY DIFFICULT THING TO DO. WE'VE MADE SOME STRIDES IN MENTAL HEALTH, THOUGH, BY THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE COMMITTING RESOURCES TO BRING ON A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL, BOTH IN THE AIR GUARD AND ARMY GUARD FULL TIME TO THERE'S SOMEONE THERE TO HELP OUR SOLDIERS WHEN THEY NEED IT, BUT WHAT'S MOST EFFECTIVE IS THE PERSONAL CONTACT THAT WE HAVE, SO OUR OUTREACH FOLKS, THERE'S TEN OF THEM IN THE STATE AND THEY DON'T JUST SIT BEHIND A DESK AND CALL PEOPLE AND SAY HOW YOU DOING. THEY DRIVE TO PEOPLE AND KNOCK ON THEIR DOOR AND THEY SIT DOWN WITH PEOPLE AND HAVE A CUP OF COFFEE ALONG WITH OUR CHAPLAIN BECAUSE THAT'S REALLY HOW WE'RE GOING TO MAKE PROGRESS ON THIS.

>> HAVE YOU HAD -- YOU MENTIONED THERE'S SOME REALLY DISTURBING STATISTICS AROUND VETERANS AND TAKING THEIR OWN LIVES, HAS THAT HAPPENED IN VERMONT?

>> I HAS HAPPENED IN THE PAST AS -- IT HAS HAPPENED IN THE PAST AS WELL AS HOMELESS VETERANS IS ANOTHER ISSUE. SO LIKE I SAID, OUR OUTREACH FOLKS ARE TRAINED TO HELP DEAL WITH THIS AND WE HAVE A GREAT WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE V.A. IN FACT, I WAS JUST AT THE NORTHEAST KINGDOM, THERE WAS A SUMMIT THERE FOR VETERANS, SENATOR SANDERS WAS THERE, SPOKE LAST SATURDAY ON WHAT HE AS CHAIR OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION IS DOING TO HELP OUR VETERANS IN MENTAL HEALTH AND SOME OF THESE ISSUES. THE GOOD THING IS, IS THAT THE FUNDING IS STILL THERE FOR THE V.A., BUT GETTING BACK TO SOME OF THE OTHER SIDE EFFECTS, HE ADD MENTIONED THAT SEQUESTRATION -- HAD MENTIONED THAT SEQUESTRATION IS -- THE V.A. WAS PROTECTED, BUT SOME OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND SOME OF THE OTHER ORGANIZATIONS THAT ENABLE THE SUCCESS OF THE V.A. ARE BEING CUT, SO IT IS FEELING THE SQUEEZE, IF YOU WILL.

>> WHEN YOU TESTIFIED ALONG WITH THE OTHER CANDIDATE FOR ADD JAW TANT GENERAL AT THE STATE -- ADJUTANT GENERAL AT THE STATE HOUSE, YOU MENTIONED A PLAN TO STRENGTHEN THE RESPONSE TO SEXUAL ASSAULT. WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING IN YOUR NEW POSITION TO STRENGTHEN THAT PROGRAM?

>> IT IS SOMETHING THAT WAS BEING TALKED ABOUT AT THE STATE HOUSE WHEN I STARTED TO CAMPAIGN AND IT HAS BEEN AN ACKNOWLEDGED ISSUE WITHIN OUR MILITARY. SECRETARY PANETTA ACKNOWLEDGED THAT ABOUT A YEAR AGO. AND IT IS AN ISSUE THAT NEEDS TO BE DISCUSSED. IT'S SOMETHING THAT IS -- SHOULD BE, DOES NOT HAVE A PLACE IN OUR MILITARY, SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED, AND WE'RE GOING TO MAKE PROGRESS ON THAT ISSUE. I'VE ALREADY COMMISSIONED A TASK FORCE TO BE HEADED UP BY MY DEPUTY ADJUTANT GENERAL TO MAKE SOME CONCRETE RECOMMENDATIONS ON HOW TO MOVE FORWARD ON THIS, BUT ONE OF THE BIGGEST THINGS THAT I TALKED ABOUT, AS THE OTHER CANDIDATES DID AS WELL, IS THAT IT'S A LEADERSHIP ISSUE, THAT IT'S AN ISSUE THAT IS NOT DISCUSSED BEHIND, YOU KNOW, JUST -- THE LEADERSHIP WILL FIGURE IT OUT, JUST GO, YOU KNOW, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS AND WE'LL COME UP WITH A SOLUTION, AND THAT'S NOT RIGHT. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WE AS LEADERS NEED TO TALK ABOUT WITHIN THE FAMILY, DISCUSS THE EFFECTS OF HAVING SOMETHING LIKE THIS OCCUR IN THE FAMILY, AND THAT EVERYBODY IS PART OF THE SOLUTION OF THIS. AND WE'VE GOT SOME GREAT PEOPLE. WE'VE MADE SOME GREAT PROGRESS ON THE DISPOSITION OF CASES, WHERE I THINK WE NEED TO FOCUS OUR EFFORTS IS ON THE PREVENTION SIDE.

>> SO DO YOU THINK THIS IS A PROBLEM IN THE VERMONT NATIONAL GUARD?

>> I DON'T THINK IT'S A PROBLEM IN THE VERMONT NATIONAL GUARD, BUT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE ARE LOOKING AT WITH THE TASK FORCE IS DO IDENTIFY ALL THE ISSUES THAT SURROUND IT. BUT I WILL CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE IT IS NOT TOLERATED AND THAT EVERYBODY IS PART OF THIS SOLUTION WITH THE GOAL THAT EVERYBODY GETS TREATED FAIRLY, WITH RESPECT AND DIGNITY, BECAUSE THIS IS A -- THIS IS A FAMILY. YOU KNOW, I GREW UP IN THIS FAMILY, AND IT WOULDN'T BE TOLERATED IN ANYONE'S FAMILY, IT WON'T BE TOLERATED IN OURS.

>> AND WHY CREATE A TASK FORCE THEN IF YOU DON'T THINK IT'S A PROBLEM?

>> BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW WHAT I DON'T KNOW AND I THINK THAT IT'S -- IT WOULD ALWAYS -- IT WOULD BE THE RIGHT THING TO DO, TO GET FOLKS THAT ARE EXPERTS IN CERTAIN FIELDS TO COME TOGETHER AND COME UP WITH SOME CONCRETE WAYS TO IMPROVE OUR PREVENTION CAPABILITIES.

>> WHAT WOULD -- WHO WOULD BE ON THIS TASK FORCE?

>> WELL, WE HAD A SEXUAL ASSAULT RESPONSE COORDINATOR, SHE WOULD BE INTEGRAL IN DEVELOPING A STRATEGIC PLAN ON HOW TO MOVE FORWARD. DIFFERENT WAYS TO COMMUNICATE THE MESSAGE AND WE HAD A MILITARY WOMEN'S WORKSHOP 2 1/2 YEARS AGO, CAME UP WITH SOME RECOMMENDATIONS AND I WANT TO CONTINUE THE EFFORT TO IMPLEMENT THOSE RECOMMENDATIONS AND SCHEDULE THE NEXT ONE AS WELL. THAT'S ON THE BACK OF THE FACT THAT, YOU KNOW, THE MILITARY IS OPENING UP MORE POSITIONS IN COMBAT FOR WOMEN, SO WE WANT TO DISCUSS THOSE OPPORTUNITIES, OF COURSE, MANAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN, SO THERE'S A WHOLE HOST OF IDEAS OUT THERE AND I WANT TO SEE ALL THAT. I WANT TO -- YOU KNOW, AND UNLESS I DO SOMETHING LIKE CREATE A TASK FORCE, I'M NOT SURE I'M GOING TO GET TO ALL THE AREAS THAT I'D LIKE TO LOOK AT.

>> A LOT OF GUARD MEMBERS KNOW YOU, YOU HAVE A LONG CAREER IN THE GUARD. FOR THE PEOPLE WHO AREN'T FAMILIAR WITH YOU, NOW THAT YOU ARE THE FACE OF THE GUARD, HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE?

>> WELL, I SAID THIS, YOU KNOW, DURING THE CAMPAIGN. I'M A BETTER LISTENER THAN I AM A SPEAKER. I GREW UP IN THE GUARD, LITERALLY RIDING MY BIKE FROM UVM, AND I'VE BEEN AFFORDED OPPORTUNITIES. I'D LIKE TO CONTINUE TO AFFORD OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE THAT WANT TO JOIN AN ORGANIZATION THAT'S SOMETHING BIGGER THAN THEMSELVES, BUT WANT TO SERVE OTHERS. I WANT TO ENABLE THAT -- THOSE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FOLKS. AND SO I LIKE TO LISTEN, I LIKE THE COLLABORATION OF A SOLUTION AND THEN, YOU KNOW, MOVE OUT. I DON'T HAVE A PROBLEM MAKING DECISIONS, OBVIOUSLY, BUT I WILL SEEK OUT COLLABORATION AMONGST THE EXPERTS BECAUSE WE DO HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE VERMONT NATIONAL GUARD THAT CARE DEEPLY ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE GUARD AND I WANT TO HEAR THEIR THOUGHTS.

>> THE GUARD'S ROLE HAS CHANGED DRAMATICALLY OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS IN WAYS THAT A LOT OF VERMONTERS WERE SURPRISED. I THINK ABOUT BURST CALL-UP UNDER GENERAL LENBROUGH AND THE CALL UP UNDER GOVERNOR DOUGLAS. WHAT DO YOU SEE THE ROLE OF THE GUARD IN THE FUTURE AS YOU LOOK FORWARD? WHAT ARE YOU PREPARING FOR?

>> I REALLY DON'T SEE THE LARGE DEPLOYMENTS MOVING FORWARD. I MEAN, WE'LL BE PREPARED TO DO THAT, BUT I THINK OUR NATION IS MOVING IN A DIRECTION WHERE THERE'S GOING TO BE, YOU KNOW, EFFORTS MADE TO PARTNER WITH OTHER NATIONS, WITH OTHER COUNTRIES, AND ACTUALLY THE ROLE VERMONT CAN PLAY AS WELL AS THE NATIONAL GUARD CAN PLAY A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN, THAT AS YOU KNOW, WE HAVE STATE PARTNERSHIPS AROUND THE WORLD. VERMONT HAS TWO OF THEM, BOTH IN MACEDONIA AND SENEGAL, SO USING THOSE PARTNERSHIPS MAY BE SMALLER, MORE SCALABLE FORCES TO TARGET PLACES, YOU KNOW, CONFLICTS IN THE REGION, BUT WE WILL CONTINUE TO BE PREPARED, HE CAN EQUIP OURSELVES, TRAIN OURSELVES, BE READY TO DO WHAT OUR NATION ASKS US TO DO, BUT THE ROLE OF THE GUARD IS DEFINITELY CHANGING IN A POST-AFGHANISTAN/IRAQ ENVIRONMENT.

>> SO YOU DON'T SEE THOSE BIG CALL-UPS, SMALLER TARGETED CALL-UPS?

>> I THINK SO. I THINK THERE WILL BE SMALLER, MORE -- WE HAVE RICH CAPABILITIES, WE HAVE CYBER ABILITIES, MILITARY MOUNTAINING. WE HAVE BRIGADES TO HELP PREPARE ROADS AND REPAIR ROADS. WE HAVE CIVIL ENGINEERS. THERE ARE A LOT OF CAPABILITIES THAT THE STATE HAS AND WE'LL BE LEVERAGING THOSE IN THE COMING YEARS.

>> ADJUTANT GENERAL STEVE CRAY, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME.

>> THANK YOU.

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  • Snowmobile season officially ends

    Snowmobile season officially ends

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:08 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:08:12 GMT
    Today marks the end of the snowmobile season. The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers reports a banner year with the best riding conditions in years. VAST says next year snowmobilers will be able toMore >>
    Today marks the end of the snowmobile season. The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers reports a banner year with the best riding conditions in years. VAST says next year snowmobilers will be able toMore >>
  • A big honor for a Burlington teen

    A big honor for a Burlington teen

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:06 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:06:26 GMT
    16-year-old Yusuf Abdi was named 2014 Vermont Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. He received the award during a celebration at the State House today. Judges called him extraordinary for his age, articulate,More >>
    16-year-old Yusuf Abdi was named 2014 Vermont Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. He received the award during a celebration at the State House today.More >>
  • Blood donor honored for his contributions

    Blood donor honored for his contributions

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:04 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:04:54 GMT
    There are your average blood donors who might give once or twice a year and then there is Frank Sklenarik. He's donated 140 units or 17-and-half gallons of blood since becoming a donor in 1996. Today theMore >>
    There are your average blood donors who might give once or twice a year and then there is Frank Sklenarik. He's donated 140 units or 17-and-half gallons of blood since becoming a donor in 1996. Today theMore >>
  • Weather rollercoaster wreaks havoc across the state

    Weather rollercoaster wreaks havoc across the state

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-04-16 04:07:42 GMT
    Rain, flooding and now snow. This weather rollercoaster is causing problems all around our region. Temps have dropped so the heavy rainfall has switched to snow. Rivers are spilling their banks, roadsMore >>
    Rain, flooding and now snow. This weather rollercoaster is causing problems all around our region. Temps have dropped so the heavy rainfall has switched to snow.More >>
  • Rutland mom caught stealing Easter goodies

    Rutland mom caught stealing Easter goodies

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:07 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:07:35 GMT
    A Rutland mom is busted for stealing goodies for her child's Easter basket.  22-year-old Monica Barker pleaded guilty to swiping about $70 in merchandise from Wal-mart. Police say most of the stolen itemsMore >>
    A Rutland mom is busted for stealing goodies for her child's Easter basket.  22-year-old Monica Barker pleaded guilty to swiping about $70 in merchandise from Wal-mart. Police say most of the stolen itemsMore >>
  • Warnings about rising rivers across our region

    Warnings about rising rivers across our region

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 8:08 PM EDT2014-04-16 00:08:37 GMT
    Flood warnings are in effect around our region as heavy rains begin to move through. There is already localized flooding at some of the typical problem spots, like the wrong-way bridge on Route 15 inMore >>
    Parts of our region are already flooding and others are bracing as heavy rains move through. Not only is rain falling fast, but warm temperatures Monday melted snow, adding to high waters.More >>
  • Man rescued from Black River in Springfield

    Man rescued from Black River in Springfield

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 7:06 PM EDT2014-04-15 23:06:00 GMT
    A man had to be pulled from the Black River in Springfield Tuesday morning. The Hartford Fire Department says it's working to pull a man out from the river. They say he got stuck about 75 feet out inMore >>
    Vermont emergency workers have rescued a man stranded in the middle of a treacherous section of river in downtown Springfield.
    More >>
  • NH agrees Vt. man was insane during killing

    NH agrees Vt. man was insane during killing

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-15 18:49:26 GMT
    A Vermont man charged with stabbing a stranger to death in the lobby of a New Hampshire hotel last year will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.More >>
    A Vermont man charged with stabbing a stranger to death in the lobby of a New Hampshire hotel last year will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.More >>
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