SHAHEEN: PRESERVE NEW HAMPSHIRE NATIONAL GUARD SUPPORT PROGRAM
Presses military to continue funding critical support program for soldiers and familiesMarch 03, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) today sent a letter to Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, requesting that the military support and assist in funding the New Hampshire National Guard’s Deployment Cycle Support Program (DCSP). In the past, the New Hampshire delegation has funded DCSP through bipartisan congressionally directed spending, which will be unavailable for Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012.
“While it’s imperative that we eliminate wasteful government spending, providing support to soldiers and their families isn’t something I believe falls into that category,” Shaheen said. “Cutting funding for this program would jeopardize the well-being of those whom we have asked to give the ultimate sacrifice.”
Through the program, all New Hampshire National Guard members and their families are assigned a professional care coordinator who checks in on family members during and after a soldier’s deployment. The program also assists returning Guard members as they transition back to civilian life.
At a recent Armed Services Committee hearing, Senator Shaheen personally pressed Admiral Mullen on finding ways to continue funding National Guard support programs like DCSP as congressionally directed spending ends. In February, Shaheen introduced the Citizen Soldier Outreach Support Act, which would authorize effective state-led programs like DCSP to apply for competitive federal funding as an alternative to congressionally directed spending. Shaheen worked with former U.S. Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) to secure funding for the program in Fiscal Year 2010.
As Guard members nationwide continue to play an increased role in U.S. military strategy, meeting their needs is now more important than ever. DCSP is designed to prepare and support service members and their families during the full cycle of mobilization, deployment, and reintegration.
Since the program was instituted in 2007, more than 800 families and 4,000 individuals have utilized DCSP and the effort has generated meaningful results. For example, the Guard has found that military members involved in DCSP are four times more likely to stay married, four times more likely to stay in the military, and five times less likely to be homeless. Perhaps most notably, the program provides professional suicide prevention for returning Guard members, and 100 percent of those members considered “at-risk” of suicide are in active prevention with licensed support.
As members of the New Hampshire National Guard return from the state’s largest National Guard deployment since World War II, continuing to fund DCSP to ensure soldiers receive the support they need is now more important than ever.
The full text of the Senators’ letter is below.
March 2, 2011
Admiral Michael G. Mullen, USN
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
U.S. Department of Defense
9999 Joint Chiefs of Staff
Pentagon, Washington, DC 20318
Dear Admiral Mullen:
We write to follow up on our February 17th discussion before the Senate Armed Services Committee with respect to the New Hampshire National Guard’s Deployment Cycle Support Program (DCSP). We believe our state’s National Guard support program is a model initiative that provides strong support for our National Guard soldiers and their families. We request your help in supporting this critical National Guard program in our state.
As you well know, our country has come to rely heavily on the men and women of our National Guard to protect U.S. interests abroad and keep Americans safe. They have made a solemn commitment to our state and our nation, and they continue to make great sacrifices, engaging in multiple deployments in some of the most dangerous regions in the world.
As we discussed during the hearing, in an effort to meet the unique and considerable needs of our “citizen soldiers,” the New Hampshire National Guard has instituted a program to prepare and support service members and their families during the full cycle of mobilization, deployment, and reintegration. The innovative program, a joint effort between the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Easter Seals, and civilian and veteran service organizations, is designed to supplement the national Yellow Ribbon program and to give more personal and targeted attention that is required for the unique needs of our returning Guard members and their families.
This program has relied on congressionally directed funding over the course of the last several years. By direction from Congress, this program has, in the past, drawn resources from the “Operations and Maintenance” account (specifically, the “Operation & Maintenance, Army National Guard” account, OMARNG) in order to fulfill its objective.
Since the program was instituted in 2007, over 800 families and over 4,000 individuals have utilized DCSP, and the effort has generated meaningful results and measureable metrics in many areas, including ability to deploy, retention, homelessness, unemployment, mental health, and family life issues. For example, the Guard has found that military members involved in DCSP are 8 times more likely to be treated for previously untreated mental health issues, 4 times more likely to stay married, 4 times more likely to stay in the military, and 5 times less likely to be homeless. Perhaps most notably, the program provides professional “eyes-on” suicide prevention for returning Guard Members, and 100% of those Members considered “at-risk” of suicide are in active prevention with licensed support.
With the return of members of the New Hampshire National Guard from the state’s largest deployment since World War II, it is essential that we find a way to fund this critical program. At a time when our “citizen soldiers” require reintegration support the most, there is a possibility they will be left without a significant source of support and assistance.
This winter, the President – in coordination with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of Defense, and the entire Federal Government – announced a new military family support directive. This overdue whole-of-government initiative is aimed at creating new resources and programs to improve military families’ quality of life and to help service members and their families successfully transition back home. The New Hampshire National Guard’s Deployment Cycle Support Program is a tried and tested initiative that we believe would strengthen the President’s new directive and represents exactly the types of programs we should be supporting.
In your career, you have provided inspiring leadership and a dedicated, impassioned commitment to our military families. We support your efforts to shine light on the great sacrifices our members and their families are making and the need to develop high-quality support programs which match their great sacrifice. As you said at the hearing, “We have asked a great deal from our people, and we must invest in them and their families…as they are the single greatest guarantee of a strong military.”
We believe that the New Hampshire National Guard’s Deployment Cycle Support Program is a perfect example of how we can do more for our courageous Guard members and their families, and we hope you can help us find financial support for this critical program. Thank you for your consideration, and thank you for your strong leadership in this effort.
U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)
Press Office, (202) 224-5553
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