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YCQM July 7, 2019

(WCAX)
Published: Jul. 7, 2019 at 2:36 PM EDT
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Darren: GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE.

I'M DARREN PERRON. RIGHT NOW ON CHANNEL 3'S "YOU

CAN QUOTE ME," A VERMONT SOLDIER COMES OUT LIVE ON TV

DURING PRIDE CELEBRATIONS AND HIS STORY GOES VIRAL.

HE JOINS US HERE IN THE STUDIO THIS MORNING TO TALK ABOUT IT.

>>> ALSO, RAISED VT.

YOU MAY HAVE SEEN THE LOGO ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

WE MEET THE MEN BEHIND IT. FIND OUT WHY THEY LAUNCHED THE BRAND AND HOW THEY'RE HELPING THEIR COMMUNITY DOING SO.

>>> PLUS, VERMONT'S ATTORNEY

GENERAL TALKS ABOUT THE STATE'S

LAWSUIT AGAINST 11 COMPANIES

OVER WATER QUALITY.

>>> AND KIDS IN CRISIS.

WAITING IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM

FOR DAYS, EVEN WEEKS FOR MENTAL

HEALTH TREATMENT.

AND THAT'S WHERE WE BEGIN THIS

MORNING.

HUNDREDS OF KIDS END UP IN THE

E.R. EACH YEAR AROUND VERMONT

FOR PSYCHIATRIC HELP, AND MOST

GO HOME.

BUT WHEN THEY NEED A HIGHER

LEVEL OF CARE, THAT'S WHEN WE

FOUND THE BOTTLENECK BEGINS.

THE VERMONT DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL

HEALTH SAYS LAST YEAR 52 KIDS

WHO WERE CONSIDERED A DANGER TO

THEMSELVES OR OTHERS HAD TO WAIT

FOR PLACEMENT.

THEIR AVERAGE STENT IN THE E.R.

WAS ABOUT THREE DAYS.

THE DEPARTMENT DOESN'T HAVE THE

NUMBERS FOR FAMILIES WHOSE

CHILDREN SOUGHT HELP ON THEIR

OWN.

BUT THE E.R. CAN BE AN

OVERWHELMING PLACE FOR A CHILD,

AND WHILE EVERYONE WE SPOKE WITH

AGREES, KIDS SHOULD NOT BE

WAITING IN THE E.R., WHEN WE

ASKED HOW TO FIX THE PROBLEM, NO

ONE HAD A CLEAR SOLUTION.

CAT VIGLIENZONI INVESTIGATED THE

PROBLEM AND SPOKE WITH A FAMILY

WHO SAYS THEY ARE FRUSTRATED BY

A SYSTEM THAT THEY BELIEVE IS

FAILING.

SHE JOINS US NOW.

CAT, GOOD MORNING.

>> Cat: GOOD MORNING, DARREN.

THE MOM WHO CAME FORWARD TO

SHARE HER SON'S STORY WITH ME

SAYS SHE DID IT BECAUSE SHE

WANTS TO SHINE A LIGHT ON A

PROBLEM THAT PUTS HER FAMILY AND

CHILD IN DANGER.

AND TO LET OTHER PARENTS

STRUGGLING TO GET MENTAL HEALTH

CARE FOR THEIR CHILDREN KNOW

THEY'RE NOT ALONE.

>> HE'S A FANTASTIC KID.

HE IS CREATIVE AND ATHLETIC AND

JUST LIKE -- HE'S FUNNY.

>> Cat: KAITLIN RAY LOVES HER

SON.

THE 11-YEAR-OLD PLAYS BASKETBALL

AND ADORES HIS PET HAMSTER, BUT

SHE'S ASKED US NOT TO SHOW HIS

FACE BECAUSE HE STRUGGLES WITH

MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.

SERIOUS ENOUGH THAT POLICE AND

CRISIS RESPONDERS HAVE HAD TO

GET INVOLVED.

IS THE SYSTEM WORKING?

>> THE SYSTEM IS NOT WORKING AT

ALL.

>> Cat: SHE SAYS THEY WANT HIM

TO GET TREATMENT.

HE'S ALREADY BEEN THROUGH THE

HOWARD CENTER AND HOSPITALIZED

AT BRATTLEBORO RETREAT, BUT LAST

MONTH, HE ENDED UP IN THE E.R.

AGAIN AND RAY SAYS HE WAITED

THERE FOR A BED TO OPEN UP AT

THE RETREAT FOR 13 DAYS.

>> IT'S AN EMERGENCY ROOM AND

IT'S MEANT FOR EMERGENCIES, NOT

MEANT TO PEOPLE TO SIT THERE

WAITING FOR, YOU KNOW, UPWARDS

OF TWO WEEKS FOR SOME SORT OF

TREATMENT.

>> Cat: AND AT THE END OF IT

ALL, SHE SAYS BRATTLEBORO

RETREAT DECIDED NOT TO TAKE HER

SON, LEAVING THEM BACK AT SQUARE

ONE.

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE WHEN YOU

GET TO THE E.R. AND YOU'VE BEEN

WAITING THERE FOR A WEEK, UP TO

TWO, AND THEN YOU FIND OUT THAT

YOU JUST HAVE TO TAKE YOUR CHILD

HOME?

>> IT'S VERY FRUSTRATING AND

IT'S HEARTBREAKING.

YOU CAN GET SOMETHING FIXED OR

YOU CAN WORK TOWARDS GETTING

SOMETHING FIXED, IT'S A POSITIVE

THING, AND THEN TO BE HOLD

THAT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, IT'S

REALLY DEVASTATING.

>> Cat: PSYCHIATRISTS SAY THE

LONGER A CHILD WAITS TO GET

APPROPRIATE CARE, THE WORSE THE

MENTAL ILLNESS GETS.

>> IT'S FRUSTRATING FOR

EVERYBODY.

>> Cat: A CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST AND

DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR FOR THE

DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH SAYS

VERMONT HAS GOOD CLINICIANS AND

GOOD INTEGRATION BETWEEN THE

SCHOOL SYSTEM AND PRIMARY CARE,

BUT --

>> WE'RE ABSOLUTELY STRUGGLING

IN SOME AREAS.

>> Cat: HE THINKS KIDS ARE

WAITING IN THE E.R. FOR TOO

LONG.

BRATTLEBORO RETREAT IS THE

ONIN-STATE INPATIENT OPTION FOR

VERMONT'S KIDS.

I DUG INTO THE NUMBERS AND FOUND

OUT THERE ARE 30 BEDS AT THE

RETREAT FOR KIDS AND THEY'RE

SPLIT BETWEEN TWO AGE GROUPS.

THEY TELL ME THEY HAD NEARLY 800

YOUTH ADMISSIONS LAST YEAR, MANY

OF THEM REPEAT VISITORS.

WHEN I ASKED THEM IF THEY THINK

THE STATE NEEDS MORE BEDS FOR

KIDS IN CRISIS, THEY SAY IT'S

HARD TO SAY.

LAST YEAR, THEY HAD ABOUT 11,000

BED DAYS AVAILABLE FOR YOUTH AND

ABOUT 9500 OF THEM WERE ACTUALLY

USED, SO IN THEORY, THERE SHOULD

BE FOUR BEDS AVAILABLE EACH DAY,

BUT THE RETREAT SAYS THE REALITY

IS THE DEMAND FOR MENTAL HEALTH

TREATMENT GOES UP AND DOWN, SO

SOME DAYS THERE ARE NO BEDS

AVAILABLE AND OTHER DAYS THERE

ARE SEVERAL.

MANY OF THE MENTAL HEALTH

OFFICIALS I SPOKE WITH SAY THEY

BELIEVE THERE IS A NEED.

>> THE BOTTOM LINE IS, I THINK

WE DO NEED MORE ACUTE CARE BEDS.

>> Cat: AND HE SAYS THE IT WOULD

LIKELY SHORTEN WAIT TIMES.

THAT'S WHERE THE DEPARTMENT OF

MENTAL HEALTH IS FOCUSING.

THE COMMISSIONER SAYS ADDING

MORE BEDS IS NOT THE ONLY FIX.

HER DEPARTMENT IS LOOKING AT

SEVERAL SOLUTIONS, INCLUDING

INTERVENING EARLIER WITH

CHILDREN, STRENGTHENING MENTAL

HEALTH SERVICES IN PUBLIC

SCHOOLS, STRENGTHENING

OUTPATIENT PROGRAMS, AND

ADDRESSING STIGMA.

BUT SHE SAYS THEY ROUTINELY HEAR

FROM FAMILIES WHO ARE STRUGGLING

IN THE SYSTEM AND WANTS PARENTS

TO KNOW THEY ARE LISTENING.

>> THESE STORIES ARE

HEARTBREAKING FROM MY

PERSPECTIVE.

>> Cat: KAITLIN RAY SAYS SHE

WANTS LESS TALK AND MORE ACTION.

>> THINGS DON'T MOVE VERY FAST.

>> Cat: BECAUSE EACH DAY HER

CHILD ISN'T IN TREATMENT PUTS

HIM AND THE REST OF HER FAMILY

AT RISK.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE SCARIEST

MOMENT FOR YOUR FAMILY SO FAR?

>> IT'S EVERY TIME THAT I FEEL

COMPLETELY HELPLESS, WHEN I KNOW

WHAT'S BEST FOR MY CHILD AND I

CAN'T DO IT.

>> Darren: SO CAT, WHAT IS THE

MENTAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT DOING

ABOUT THIS?

>> Cat: THEY ARE IN THE MIDDLE

OF AN EVALUATION PROCESS AS

MANDATED BY LAWMAKERS TO ASSESS

HOW VERMONT'S MENTAL HEALTH

SYSTEM IS WORKING.

RIGHT NOW, THEY'RE DOING A

LISTENING TOUR AROUND THE STATE

TO HEAR FROM PARENTS ABOUT

WHAT'S WORKING AND WHAT'S NOT

AND THEN DEVELOP A TEN-YEAR

VISION.

THEY ARE PLANNING TO HAVE THAT

DONE FOR THE NEXT LEGISLATIVE

SESSION.

>> Darren: WHAT ROLE DOES THE

DEPARTMENT FOR CHILDREN AND

FAMILIES PLAY IN THIS?

>> Cat: SOMETIMES A PARENT MIGHT

CHOOSE TO TURN OVER CUSTODY OF

THEIR CHILD TO DCS BECAUSE THE

DEPARTMENT MAY BE ABLE TO GET

THEM BETTER OR DIFFERENT ACCESS

TO TREATMENT.

IT WAS ONE OF THE OPTIONS THE

MOM I SPEAK WITH SAID SHE WAS

FACED WITH WHEN THEY COULDN'T

STAY IN THE HOSPITAL ANY LONGER

AND COULDN'T GET A BED EITHER.

BUT SHE SAID THAT WAS NOT AN

OPTION SHE WANTED TO CONSIDER.

I DID SPEAK TO ANOTHER MOM, NO

THE ON CAMERA, WHO TOLD ME SHE

DID MAKE THAT DECISION FOR HER

CHILDREN BECAUSE IT WAS THE ONLY

WAY TO GET THE CARE NEEDED, BUT

SHE SAYS IT WAS A HARD DECISION

TO MAKE.

THE DOCTOR SAYS THE PARENT DOES

REMAIN INVOLVED IN THE CHILD'S

CARE AND HAS SOME INFLUENCE ON

THE DECISIONS MADE.

>> Darren: SO IF THERE'S A WAIT

FOR IN-STATE CARE, DO FAMILIES

HAVE THE OPTION OF SENDING THEIR

KIDS TO OUT-OF-STATE FACILITIES?

>> Cat: YEAH, WITH A CAVEAT.

I'M TOLD INSURANCE MAY BE AN

ISSUE FOR SOME FAMILIES IN THAT,

BUT JUST THE VERMONT YOUTH

COVERED BY MEDICAID, THERE WERE

19 OUT-OF-STATED A MISSIONS LAST

YEAR.

I SHOULD NOTE THAT IS NOT

SEPARATE PEOPLE.

SOME YOUTH MAY HAVE BEEN

HOSPITALIZED MORE THAN ONCE OUT

OF STATE.

NO ONE CAN BE INVOLUNTARILY

HOSPITALIZED OUT OF STATE, SO

THESE WERE ALL CHILDREN WHO

AGREED TO THAT SORT OF CARE.

STILL, ACCESS WITH THAT IS AN

ISSUE.

THE MOM I SPEAK WITH FOR MY

STORY SAID WHEN THEY TRIED TO

SEEK OUT OF STATE CARE FOR THE

CHILD, THE FACILITIES ACTUALLY

NEVER GOT BACK TO HER AND IT'S

NOT THE FIRST CHOICE EITHER

BECAUSE OF THE DISTANCE IT PUTS

THEM BETWEEN THEM AND THEIR

CHILD.

THERE IS NOW A NEW PEDIATRIC

PSYCH WARD OVER AT PLATTSBURGH,

BUT THEY'RE STILL DEALING WITH

INSURANCE ISSUES.

>> Darren: DO FAMILIES KNOW HOW

TO NAVIGATE THE MENTAL HEALTH

SYSTEM?

IT'S VERY COMPLICATED.

>> Cat: THAT'S WHAT EVERYONE

WILL TELL YOU.

THEY DESCRIBE IT AS PRETTY

CHALLENGING.

I ASKED THE DOCTOR AND HE HAD A

SIMILAR OPINION.

ARE THEY AWARE OF HOW TO

NAVIGATE THE SYSTEM?

>> NO, THEY'RE NOT.

I MEAN, IT'S A VERY COMPLEX AND

CONFUSING SYSTEM.

I'M ONE OF THE MEDICAL DIRECTORS

FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL

HEALTH AND IT'S CONFUSING FOR

ME.

IT'S CONFUSING FOR ME SOMETIMES

TO NAVIGATE FOR MY OWN PATIENTS,

SO I CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT IT'S

LIKE FOR PARENTS WHO HAVE NO

EXPERIENCE NAVIGATING THE

SYSTEM.

>> Cat: AND AS TO WHAT'S DONE TO

FIX THAT, THE MENTAL HEALTH

DEPARTMENT SAYS IT IS IN THE

MIDDLE OF DESIGNING A BROCHURE

FOR FAMILIES THAT WILL HELP

GUIDE THEM ON WHAT THE NEXT

STEPS ARE IF THEY END UP IN THE

EMERGENCY ROOM WITH A CHILD WHO

NEEDS MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT.

>> Darren: CAT, THANK YOU FOR

THIS VERY IMPORTANT

INVESTIGATION.

>>> STILL AHEAD ON "YOU CAN

QUOTE ME," THE STATE'S LEGAL

FIGHT OVER CONTAMINATED WATER.

ALSO, A VERMONT SOLDIER

ANNOUNCES HE'S GAY ON LIVE TV.

SEE WHAT'S HAPPENED AFTER, AND

NEXT, A BRAND WITH A PLAN.

WE SHOWCASE VERMONT AND SEE HOW.

>> Darren: VERMONT TAKING ON

CHEMICAL COMPANIES OVER PFA

CONTAMINATION.

THE CHEMICALS ARE LINKED TO

CANCER.

CAT VIGLIENZONI SPOKE WITH

VERMONT ATTORNEY GENERAL T.J.

DONOVAN ABOUT WHY THE STATE IS

SUING AND HOW WIDESPREAD THE

PROBLEM IS.

>> Donovan: WELL, WE FILED

LAWSUITS AGAINST 11 CORPORATIONS

FOR CONTAMINATING VERMONT'S AIR,

OUR SOIL, OUR WATER, AND

PEOPLE'S BODIES IN THIS STATE BY

PUTTING DANGEROUS CHEMICALS,

PFAS, INTO OUR ENVIRONMENT AND

HERE'S THE THING.

THEY KNEW THEY WERE DANGEROUS

AND THEY NEVER TOLD US.

THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR

DECADES.

IT'S TIME TO HOLD THEM

ACCOUNTABLE.

THIS STARTED IN BENNINGTON, BUT

THERE CONTAMINATION IS ALL

THROUGHOUT THE STATE.

OUR FOCUS ORIGINALLY WAS

BRINGING CLEAN DRINKING WATER TO

THE RESIDENTS OF BENNINGTON.

WE GOT THAT JOB DONE.

ACCESS TO CLEAN DRINKING WATER

AS HUMAN RIGHT.

NOW IT'S TIME TO BRING

ACCOUNTABILITY TO THESE

CORPORATIONS, THESE

MULTI-NATIONAL CHEMICAL

CORPORATIONS, FOR CONTAMINATING

VERMONT'S ENVIRONMENT.

>> Cat: TO BE CLEAR FOR OUR

VIEWERS, ST. COBANE IS NOT

INVOLVED IN THIS LAWSUIT?

>> Donovan: IT IS 11

CORPORATIONS, 3M, DUPONT, SOME

OTHERS, BUT NOT THAT ONE.

>> Cat: WHAT DO VERMONTERS NEED

TO KNOW ABOUT THOSE CHEMICALS IN

TERMS OF WHAT THEY SHOULD DO IF

THEY THINK, IT'S NOT JUST IN

BENNINGTON, WAS IT IN MY AREA?

WHAT KIND OF AREAS OF THE STATE

ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

>> Donovan: LET ME BE CLEAR.

UNFORTUNATELY, WE'RE GOING TO

FIND PFAS CONTAMINATION IN EVERY

PART OF THE STATE.

LET ME ALSO BE CLEAR, THERE ARE

SIGNIFICANT HEALTH RISKS

ASSOCIATED WITH THE CHEMICAL.

I DON'T WANT TO SCARE PEOPLE,

BUT WE WANT TO INFORM VERMONTERS

THAT THESE CHEMICALS ARE

EVERYWHERE IN THIS STATE AND

FRANKLY, WE'RE ALREADY FINDING

THAT THEY'RE IN ALL CORNERS OF

OUR STATE, AND THAT THERE ARE

SOME SERIOUS HEALTH RISKS

ASSOCIATED WITH THESE CHEMICALS.

SO VERMONTERS SHOULD BE

INFORMED, CALL MY OFFICE, WE'RE

HAPPY TO TALK TO THEM.

MY ENVIRONMENTAL TEAM LED BY ROD

McDOUGAL AND HIS TEAM DO A

TREMENDOUS JOB WORKING WITH THE

AGENCY OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND

WHAT WE DID IN BENNINGTON,

MAKING SURE PEOPLE HAVE ACCESS

TO CLEAN DRINKING WATER, THAT'S

THE STANDARD.

WE WANT TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE

HAS NOT ONLY ACCESS TO CLEAN

DRINKING WATER, BUT MAKING SURE

THEY HAVE THE INFORMATION THEY

NEED TO KNOW TO PROTECT

THEMSELVES AND THEIR HEALTH.

>> Cat: WHAT ARE WHY LOOKING AT

FOR A TIMETABLE WHEN WE MIGHT

FIND OUT WHAT RECOURSE THERE IS

FOR VERMONT?

>> Donovan: THAT'S EXACTLY WHY

WE SUED THESE COMPANIES IN

VERMONT STATE COURT BECAUSE WE

WANT TO MAKE VERMONT WHOLE.

WE WANT TO MAKE SURE WE CLEAN UP

THE CONTAMINATION THROUGHOUT THE

STATE AND PROTECT VERMONT'S

ENVIRONMENT.

AS YOU KNOW, THERE IS A CLASS

ACTION LAWSUIT IN TERMS OF

INDIVIDUALS BEING BROUGHT DOWN

IN BENNINGTON COUNTY, SO WHAT

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE IS

REPRESENT THE STATE OF VERMONT

AND REPRESENT THAT STEWARDSHIP

OF OUR ENVIRONMENTAL, MAKING

SURE THAT THAT CONS THAT NATION

IS CLEANED UP AND WE'RE MAKING

VERMONT WHOLE.

>> Cat: WHAT KINDS OF WAYS WOULD

THESE CHEMICALS HAVE GOTTEN IN?

ARE WE TALKING FIREFIGHTING

FOAM, WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

>> Donovan: YES, FIREFIGHTING

FOAM IS A VERY GOOD EXAMPLE.

TEFLON IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE, SO

QUITE UBIQUITOUS PRODUCTS THESE

CHEMICALS ARE IN AND

UNFORTUNATELY, THIS

CONTAMINATION IS GOING TO BE

WIDE VED IN OUR STATE.

>> Cat: IS THIS LIKELY TO GET

SETTLED OR LIKELY TO BE FOUGHT

ALL THE WAY?

>> Donovan: TOO EARLY TO TELL,

BUT WE'RE READY TO FIGHT.

>> Darren: AS CAT AND THE A.G.

TOUCHED ON, PFAS HAVE BEEN USED

IN TEFLON AND OTHER NONSTICK

COATINGS MEANT TO PROTECT COMMON

CONSUMER GOODS ACROSS COUNTY

UNITED STATES.

PFAS CONTAMINATION WAS DETECTED

IN 2016 IN PRIVATE DRINKING

WATER WELLS IN NORTH BENNINGTON.

IT HAS SINCE BEEN DETECTED IN

NUMEROUS OTHER LOCATIONS,

INCLUDING AIRPORTS, WHERE IT WAS

USED IN FIREFIGHTING FOAM.

>>> A BRAND TOUTING VERMONT AND

ALL THE STATE OFFERS IS CATCHING

ON ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

THE LOGO, RAISED VT.

IT WAS STARTED BY VERMONT NATIVE

KEVIN PELLON AND TRANSPLANT

GEOFF STRAWBRIDGE, THOUGH HE

MARRIED A VERMONTER.

THEY ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT LIVING

AND WORKING IN THE STATE AND ARE

SPREADING THE LOVE, LETTING

OTHER VERMONTERS TAKE OVER THEIR

SOCIAL MEDIA, TO SHARE WHY THEY

LOVE IT TOO.

AND ON TOP OF THAT, THEY'RE

USING THE PLATFORM TO HELP

OTHERS IN THE COMMUNITY AND BOTH

MEN JOIN ME NOW.

GOOD MORNING, TO YOU.

>> GOOD MORNING.

>> GOOD MORNING.

THANKS TO HAVING US.

>> Darren: YOU BET.

THANKS FOR BEING HERE.

TELL US HOW THIS GOT UNDER WAY.

>> A LONG STORY SHORT, I LEFT A

CAREER JOB AFTER 15 YEARS, HAD A

TOUGH TIME FINDING A JOB IN

VERMONT.

DID LOTS OF ODDS AND ENDS TO

HELP BRING INCOME TO THE FAMILY,

AND NOVEMBER 2016 AFTER A FEW

HEADY TOPPERS AND OTHER LOCAL

BEER, I STARTED A BRAND FOR

THEM, RAISED VT, AND IT STARTED

GROWING FAST ORGANICALLY AND WE

HAD FOLLOWSER AFTER A YEAR.

PEOPLE STARTED CATCHING ON TO

THE FASHION AND WE LOVE SHOW

CASING VERMONT AND THE HARD WORK

WE DO.

THAT AND YOU PARTNER HOW?

>> WE MET OVER LUNCH AND I HAVE

A REAL PASSION FOR VERMONT AND

WE REALIZED THAT VERMONT IS A

VERY SPECIAL PLACE, INCLUSIVE OF

EVERYONE.

THE HILLS, THE VALLEYS, THE

TERRAIN, AND WE WANTED TO

RECOGNIZE THAT ON SOCIAL MEDIA

AND THAT'S HOW WE GOT STARTED.

>> Darren: SPEAKING OF SOCIAL

MEDIA, YOU CATCH IMAGES OF

VERMONT AND VERMONTERS DOING

VERMONT-Y THINGS.

TELL US WHAT FOLKS CAN EXPECT IF

THEY LOG ON?

>> THE NEAT THING ABOUT

RAISED VT IS IF YOU USE THE

RAISED VT, WE WANT TO SEE WHAT

YOUR LIVES ARE LIKE ON A DAILY

BASIS, WHAT YOU LOVE, YOU DON'T

LOVE.

>> Darren: AND YOU EXPANDED THIS

TO MERCHANDISE.

TAKE A LOOK AT THE DESK HERE.

WE'RE SURROUNDED BY HATS AND

T-SHIRTS.

TELL US HOW THAT HAPPENED?

>> PEOPLE ASKED ON INSTAGRAM IF

WE HAD MERCHANDISE AND AT THAT

POINT, WE DIDN'T, SO WE

BASICALLY LAUNCHED IT OUT OF A

CAR.

STARTED WITH 25 T-SHIRTS, TOLD

THEM AND PUT THAT MONEY AND

REPURCHASED MORE PRODUCT.

MET A DESIGNER, DAVID, WHO

DESIGNED OUR NEWEST LOGO.

HE BELIEVE IN THE BRAND, SO HE

STARTED COMING UP WITH

CREATIVITY AND SAW THE PASSION

OF WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO.

THE SKY IS THE LIMIT FOR WHERE

WE'RE AT, BUT IT'S FUN.

>> Darren: YOU SHARED YOUR

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS WITH

OTHER PEOPLE, LETTING THEM TAKE

OVER.

TELL US ABOUT THAT.

>> WE LIKE TO HAVE OTHER

VERMONTERS CELEBRATE AND

RECOGNIZE, SO THEY DO TAKEOVERS

AND EFFECTIVELY ONCE A WEEK OR

ONCE A WEEKEND, WE'LL HAVE OTHER

VERMONTERS SHARE THEIR STORIES

AND THEIR EXPERIENCES THAT MAKE

THIS AN INCREDIBLY BRAVE LITTLE

STATE.

>> Darren: YOU LAUNCHED ANOTHER

LINE RECENTLY AND THAT'S WHEN

RAISED 14 -- 14th STATE, OF

COURSE -- SO THIS ONE IS

PARTIALLY A BENEFIT FOR THE JOSH

PALLOTTA FUND.

EXPLAIN TO FOLKS WHAT THAT IS.

>> SO I ALWAYS THOUGHT IT WOULD

BE TO BREW BEER, BUT I DON'T

HAVE THE -- WE DIDN'T HAVE THE

CAPABILITY TO DO IT, BUT WE

REACHED OUT T 14th STAR AND

THOUGHT THIS WOULD BE A NEAT

COLAB BECAUSE IT WOULD BE NICE

TO GIVE BACK TO OTHER

NONPROFITS, AND THEY CREATED A

BEER FOR US AND THEY SELL AT

THEIR FACTORY, SO IT'S NEAT TO

GIVE MONEY BACK TO ANOTHER

FOUNDATION THAT SUPPORTS OTHER

LOCAL VERMONTERS.

>> Darren: AND THIS ONE

SPECIFICALLY IS FOR VETERANS WHO

ARE SUFFERING FROM PTSD.

>> CORRECT.

>> Darren: AND YOU'VE DONE OTHER

BENEFITS AS WELL.

>> YEAH, THIS ONE UP HERE WE DID

FOR THE FLYING RYAN FOUNDATION,

IT WAS NEAT.

RYAN WAS FROM VERMONT, GOES

AROUND AND THEY DO SCHOLARSHIPS

PROGRAMS FOR HIGH SCHOOL

STUDENTS, AND WE THOUGHT IT

WOULD BE NEAT TO CREATE A HAT

WITH THEM AND DEDONATED MONEY TO

THAT -- WE DONATED MONEY TO THAT

FOUNDATION AS WELL.

>> Darren: SO WHAT'S NEXT FOR

RAISED VT?

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?

>> WE'RE PARTNERING WITH LOTS OF

BRAND TON GET THE WORD OUT.

WE HAD A RECENT PARTNERSHIP WITH

BAG BALM, SO LOTS OF FUN.

WE'RE LOOKING TO FIND NEW AND

EXCITING COMPANIES TO SHOWS

CASE.

>> AND I HAVE A BIGGER VISION.

MAYBE WE DO RAISED COLORADO OR

RAISED NEW HAMPSHIRE, BUT

THERE'S A LOT OF THINGS WHERE

PEOPLE ARE PROUD OF WHERE

THEY'RE FROM.

>> Darren: GOOD LUCK TO BOTH OF

YOU.

>> HI, RYAN AND CORA.

>> Darren: THE KIDS, RIGHT?

THANKS, GUYS.

>>> UP NEXT, A VERMONT SOLDIER

COMES OUT ON LIVE TV AND HAS A

MESSAGE TO OTHER SERVICE MEMBERS

TOO.

MEET HIM AFTER THE BREAK.

>> Darren: TENS OF THOUSANDS OF

PEOPLE TOOK TO THE STREETS OF

NEW YORK FOR THE LARGEST LGBTQ

CELEBRATION IN THE WORLD.

IT WAS THE FIRST TIME WORLD

PRIDE WAS HELD IN THE U.S.

IT WAS A HISTORIC CELEBRATION.

THE MARCH COINCIDED WITH THE

50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE STONE

WALL RIOTS, CONSIDERED THE

CATALYST FOR THE MODERN GAY

RIGHTS MOVEMENT.

IT WAS ALSO MONUMENTAL FOR THIS

PAN.

A VERMONT SOLDIER, SPECIALIST

BRION HOUSTON WITH THE VERMONT

NATIONAL GUARD.

HE WAS WATCHING THE PARADE WITH

FRIENDS AND HIS COUSIN WHEN A

REPORTER ASKED IF HE WAS OUT TO

HIS COLLEAGUES IN THE MILITARY.

HOUSTON ANSWERED, THIS IS MY

COMING OUT.

THE INTERVIEW WENT VIRAL AND HAS

BEEN SHARED WORLDWIDE AND

SPECIALIST HOUSTON JOINS ME NOW.

GOOD MORNING TO YOU.

>> Houston: GOOD MORNING,

DARREN.

>> Darren: DID YOU, TO BE CLEAR,

COME OUT TO YOUR FAMILY AND

FRIENDS BEFORE?

THIS WAS JUST, YOU WERE NOT OUT

TO THE MILITARY, CORRECT?

>> Houston: THAT'S CORRECT.

I CAME OUT TO MY FAMILY IN 2011

AND, YOU KNOW, BEING ACTIVE

MILITARY, IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT

FOR ME.

I WAS AFRAID.

>> Darren: SO WHAT HAS BEEN THE

REACTION SINCE THIS ALL UNFOLDED

THE?

THE.

>> Houston: OUTPOURING OF

SUPPORT HAS BEEN INCREDIBLE.

MY COMMANDER ACTUALLY SENT ME A

TEXT SAYING, I SUPPORT YOU 100%,

AND I'VE RECEIVED A LOT OF

SUPPORT AND ACCOLADES FROM MY

PEERS IN THE MILITARY ON SOCIAL

MEDIA.

>> Darren: SO THAT WAS GOING TO

BE MY NEXT QUESTION.

WERE YOU NERVOUS AT ALL IN

COMING OUT AND SHARING THIS WITH

THE GUARD AND WHAT THE REACTION

WOULD BE?

>> Houston: I WAS A LITTLE

NERVOUS, BUT SEEING HOW IT WAS

LIVE TV, I QUICKLY SNAPPED OUT

OF IT AND SAID, YOU KNOW, THIS

IS THE CHANCE.

THIS IS THE MOMENT I NEED TO

COME OUT AND I'M GLAD I DID.

>> Darren: DID YOU EXPECT THIS

KIND OF REACTION?

>> Houston: NOT AT ALL.

I DID NOT EXPECT IT TO GO

WORLDWIDE.

I RECEIVED MESSAGES FROM AROUND

THE WORLD, HAITI, AUSTRALIA,

GERMANY, JUST PRAISING THE

COURAGE THAT IT TOOK FOR ME TO

COME OUT.

>> Darren: YOU'VE SERVED WITH

THE GUARD SINCE 2007.

YOU'VE DEPLOYED TWICE TO

AFGHANISTAN, TO IRAQ, AND YOU

JUST GOT BACK FROM YOUR LATEST

DEPLOYMENT IN MAY.

YOU SAID IN THE INTERVIEW AT THE

PRIDE PARADE, WHICH WAS THE

FIRST TIME YOU HAD EVER ATTENDED

A PRIDE, RIGHT?

>> Houston: THAT'S CORRECT.

>> Darren: YOU SAID THERE'S NO

BETTER TIME TO BE OUT IN THE

MILITARY THAN RIGHT NOW.

WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?

>> Houston: I THINK THAT THERE'S

A LOT OF SUPPORT IN THE

MILITARY, ESPECIALLY THE LGBT

COMMUNITY, AND I WANT TO BE

THERE EMPOWER OTHERS THAT CAN'T,

THAT DON'T HAVE THE COURAGE TO

COME OUT.

I AM JUST ANOTHER INDIVIDUAL

THAT'S SERVING THE VERMONT

NATIONAL GUARD AND THE UNITED

STATES ARMY, AND TO BE ABLE TO

COME OUT ON LIVE TELEVISION

TAKES A LOT OF COURAGE.

>> Darren: IT CERTAINLY DID.

WE MET IN AFGHANISTAN, ACTUALLY,

WHEN I WAS EMBEDDED WITH THE

VERMONT NATIONAL GUARD THERE,

AND AT THAT TIME, SURVEYS WERE

BEING HANDED OUT TO MILITARY

MEMBERS ABOUT THE "DON'T ASK

DON'T TELL" POLICY.

I'M SURE YOU REMEMBER THAT.

>> Houston: DIRECT.

>> Darren: ULTIMATELY, THAT

ENDED IN 2011.

DID THAT PLAY A FACTOR IN WHY

YOU WERE NOT OUT AT ALL IN THE

MILITARY, THAT, YOU KNOW, THERE

WAS THIS POLICY WHEN YOU FIRST

ENLISTED?

>> Houston: IT WAS.

IT AFFECTED ME A LOT.

I LIVED WITH THE DEEP DARK

SHADOWS WHERE I COULD NOT BE

MYSELF BECAUSE I WAS AFRAID OF

WHAT MY PEERS WOULD THINK, AND

ALSO THE LEGALITY PART OF IT.

YOU WANT, THE "DON'T ASK DON'T

TELL" POLICY.

>> Darren: WHAT'S YOUR MESSAGE

TO OTHER MILITARY MEMBERS WHO

MAY NOT BE OUT YET?

>> Houston: THE BIGGEST THING I

WOULD SAY IS TO ASK YOUR PEERS

BEFORE DOING ANYTHING.

CHECK IN WITH THEM, ASK THEM HOW

THEY DID IT.

ASK THEM HOW THE PROCESS IS.

IT'S DIFFERENT FOR EVERYBODY.

THE PROCESS OF COMING OUT CAN

AFFECT PEOPLE DIFFERENTLY AND,

YOU KNOW, WITH THE DIFFERENT

DEPARTMENTS, DIFFERENT JOBS.

>> Darren: ARE YOU GLAD YOU DID?

>> Houston: ABSOLUTELY.

I DON'T REGRET IT AND I WON'T

TURN BACK.

>> Darren: SPECIALIST BRION

HOUSTON, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR

YOUR SERVICE AND THANK YOU FOR

SHARING YOUR STORY.

>> Houston: THANKS SO MUCH FOR

HAVING ME.

>> Darren: AND THANK YOU ALL FOR

JOINING US.

TAKE CARE.

THE NEWS CONTINUES NEXT RIGHT

HERE ON CHANNEL 3.

HAVE A GREAT DAY, EVERYBODY.

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