Vermont National Guard Caucus forms in the Vermont Legislature
Members of the Vermont Legislature have announced the formation of a Vermont National Guard Legislative Caucus in advance of an anticipated large-scale deployment of the Vermont Army National Guard in 2021, with the intent of improving communication with the Guard. The caucus provides a venue for Legislators and the VTNG to review policies; learn more about VTNG operations and actions; discuss issues specific to the organization and provide for additional transparency. Members of the VTNG are currently activated by Governor Scott to support Vermont during the COVID-19 state emergency, and the Air Guard is midway through their transition from the F-16 to the F-35.
One of the immediate focuses of the caucus will be supporting the large-scale, out of country deployments for the Army National Guard that are expected in 2021, and a reduced scale deployment of some members of the Air National Guard in late 2020. Legislators will have many constituents in their communities (Army and Air Guard personnel, their families, employers, and school leaders) impacted by these deployments. The group expects to provide a forum for discussion around the missions and policies of the Vermont National Guard and will be a resource for the public, the General Assembly, and affiliated policy organizations.
This nonpartisan caucus currently numbers 20 members from across the political spectrum and will be co-chaired by Dover Representative Laura Sibilia (I), Representative Matt Birong of Vergennes (D), and Rep. Lisa Hango of Berkshire (R), who initiated the formation of the nonpartisan legislative coalition. This caucus is expected to grow and will meet monthly with liaisons from the Scott Administration, Legislative Counsel, and Guard Leadership on behalf of their constituents to support the members, families, and employers of the Vermont Army and Air National Guard.
“The formation of this caucus will be a great resource for engagement between the Guard, the Legislature and the public. These dialogues will be a welcome conduit of information as our committee does its work,” said Rep Matt Birong, who serves along with Rep Lisa Hango on the Vermont House’s General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee.
As with any National Guard state, the Governor is the Commander in Chief. However, Vermont is alone in that the General Assembly elects the state’s Adjutant General.
“Vermont Legislators have a unique and consequential responsibility to ensure enlisted and officers within the Vermont National Guard have high quality and highly qualified leadership,” said Sibilia, a military mom who hopes the caucus can help new legislators understand that role.
“This Caucus has already received enthusiastic support from National Guard leaders, constituents, and leaders in the Vermont House as our Guard prepares for its overseas missions and continues to serve us here in the State with its response to the pandemic. Many constituents in Franklin County played an important role in the 2010 deployments, and I see this Caucus as a way of giving back to those who serve by supporting members, their families, and our communities,” stated Rep Hango.