SHAHEEN, AYOTTE URGE PENTAGON TO SUPPORT NATIONAL GUARD REINTEGRATION PROGRAMS

As NH National Guard returns from largest deployment since WWII, Deployment Cycle Support Program is more important than ever

February 16, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today joined several colleagues in sending a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta requesting continued support for the National Guard reintegration programs, which include the New Hampshire National Guard’s Deployment Cycle Support Program (DCSP) -- a model for providing strong support for New Hampshire service members and their families.

The New Hampshire DCSP prepares and supports service members and their families before, during, and after deployment, and assists returning service members as they transition back to civilian life.  An integrated partnership between the New Hampshire National Guard, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Easter Seals, and civilian and veteran service organizations, DCSP combines public funding and private resources to establish an integrated, sustainable, and fiscally-responsible service delivery framework.

“New Hampshire’s Deployment Cycle Support Program is an innovative program that has a tremendous track record of success in providing unique and critical services to our returning Guard members and their families,” said Senator Shaheen. “On behalf of the New Hampshire National Guard citizen-soldiers and their families, I hope the Department of Defense will recognize the crucial nature of this outreach and reintegration program.”

“We ask a lot of our troops and their families, many of whom have completed multiple tours of duty.  As a military spouse, I personally understand the challenges they face,” said Senator Ayotte.  “That’s why it’s important that they have a strong support network in place.  New Hampshire’s Deployment Cycle Support Program is a model for the nation, and I urge the Pentagon to support this essential program.”

Since the program was instituted in 2007, more than 800 families and more than 4,000 individuals have utilized DCSP, and the effort has generated meaningful results and measurable metrics in several areas.  The Guard has found that military members involved in DCSP are eight times more likely to be treated for previously untreated mental health issues, four times more likely to stay married, four times more likely to stay in the military, and five times less likely to be homeless.  The program provides suicide prevention for returning Guard members, and 100 percent of those considered “at risk” are assisted with licensed support services.

SENATORS’ LETTER TO SECRETARY PANETTA:

Dear Secretary Panetta:

As you and your colleagues implement the new Defense Strategic Guidance, we appreciate your continued commitment to service members and their families. 

Joining Forces is a national initiative that mobilizes all sectors of society to give service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.  Our states strongly support Joining Forces and are actively engaged in making this initiative a reality.  

Working with our respective Adjutant Generals, the National Guard established outreach and reintegration programs designed to assist service members in receiving the best services from the appropriate Federal, state or local agencies.

Through the FY11 Defense Appropriations, approximately $16 million was distributed to continue state programs through your Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program for 12 months; therefore, they will not have enough funding to finish the current fiscal year let alone continue into FY13.  By May, without additional funding, these programs will begin to end. 

The FY12 Defense Appropriations, Section 9010 allows continued funding, but only through “the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by title IX.”  Due to the ongoing challenges faced by returning service members, continuity of these outreach and reintegration programs remains critical.

We ask that you provide the necessary funding to allow National Guard outreach and reintegration programs to continue the good work they are doing.

In our respective states, we see first-hand the unique challenges faced by our constituents who serve in the National Guard.  Members of the National Guard confront unique professional and personal challenges with each deployment.

Through these programs, we continue to make great strides in supporting service members and their families throughout the deployment cycle, from preparing them for mobilization to transitioning them back into their communities.  This assistance can be particularly helpful for service members and families who have little experience with the military-civilian transition process.

These local programs are designed to address such serious reintegration issues as health care, employment, financial, legal, housing, and suicide prevention.  Much of this outreach is done through face-to-face meetings to better assess fundamental needs. 

National Guard personnel are not the only service members who benefit from the extensive outreach and visibility of these programs.  Reservists, as well as recently separated veterans returning to the states from active-duty service, are often referred to our programs for help.  In light of the pending reductions in force structure, we anticipate more returning veterans will need assistance.  

These programs interact with local communities by building strong working relationships with elected officials, employers, educators, social workers, veterans’ service organizations, clergy and other interested parties.  This empowers communities to better understand the specific needs, sacrifices and hardships of their military families and become more directly involved in solving those issues. 

Finally, these programs complement the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program in that they deal with an array of day-to-day problems faced by service members between monthly drill weekends and the scheduled 30-day, 60-day and 90-day Yellow Ribbon events. 

Mr. Secretary, thank you for your consideration of this request for continued funding for our states’ National Guard outreach and reintegration programs. 

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