Vt. National Guard prepares for deployment

RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) As the Vermont National Guard prepares for a large-scale deployment in 2021, it's inviting community members to learn more about what soldiers will be doing overseas.

"You spend your entire career preparing for this," Sgt. Tyler Ross said.

That's four years of rigorous training for Tyler Ross. He's one of 2,500 soldiers from Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut and Colorado who will likely deploy to several locations under the European, Central and Africa commands in 2021.

"I would be a 12 Bravo team leader. So we'd be doing anything from route clearance to operating explosives, C4 charges, counter- breaching. It all depends on what mission dictates," Ross said.

The Army hasn't yet revealed the details of those missions for security reasons. Ross says his family met news of the deployment with mixed feelings.

"They were excited for me, but it's like any family. They're nervous for what their child's going to experience," he said.

Cindy Dunigan, of Rutland, had a similar reaction when she found out. Her 20-year-old son, a Castleton University student, just returned home from basic training last month.

"We always knew it was a possibility. I didn't think that the announcement would come within a week of him getting home," Dunigan said.

She said she attended the open house because she wants to understand what her son will be going through.

"They're going to train him thoroughly before he leaves, and they'll train him some more when he gets there. I know he's going to be just fine," she said. "[I'm] super proud of him."

"The last three to four years, we actually have been training for a potential deployment, specifically," Lt. Col. Nathan Speanburg said.

The most recent part of that combat training simulated war zones at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk in Louisiana this past May. The other preparation is psychological. The Guard has resources for returning veterans when they go back to their civilian lives and officials say that transition is already integrated into drill weekends.

"We often are doing that adjustment every month. We go, we put our uniform on, we train hard. We do a lot of training. And then we go right back into our civilian job," Speanburg said.

But for this deployment, soldiers will return with invaluable experience.

"I'm looking forward to coming back and taking the training to the new soldiers coming in and preparing then so that way they can lead the future generation of soldiers better than I could," Ross said.

Though a significant number of Vermonters will be heading overseas, the Guard will retain enough troops to keep Vermont safe in case of a state emergency.