Remarks at Vermont National Guard Groundbreaking Ethan Allen Firing Range

I am so proud to be with you today as we figuratively set the cornerstones for one of the cornerstone units of the Vermont National Guard. This $10 million facility, spanning almost 50,000 square feet, will serve as the headquarters for the 86 Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), the only a brigade in the entire Army with a mountain-fighting designation. This is the unit that has spent the last year preparing for a deployment to Afghanistan, and it only fitting that this durable brigade have a world-class facility for its training and operations.  

I have always said that on issues related to Vermont, our Congressional Delegation works together in the best interest of our state.   Senator Sanders and Congressman Welch deserve thanks from all of us for joining me in obtaining the necessary funding for this new building.

The Afghanistan deployment will be challenging, putting the Green Mountain Boys in harm's way. It will be tough on the State, well beyond the citizen-soldiers who leave from here -- First, on the families who will see loved ones deployed across the globe. Then, on employers and communities and churches and Little League teams, and on and on.  The close-knit fabric of Vermont will miss all of these interwoven threads.

The skilled members of the Vermont Guard are ready for the deployment. They have aggressively trained for this mission, and they have much more planned.  I just traveled to Afghanistan as part of a trip across Southwest Asia with additional stops in Iraq and Pakistan.  I met our troops and many of the senior commanders who will oversee the Vermont brigade's deployment.

Across Afghanistan, Vermont's 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team has an absolutely sterling reputation, which will precede them.

At the same time, all Vermonters are just as ready to step up to help their loved ones, their neighbors, and their communities.  We all are a family here in Vermont, and part of what it means to be a Vermonter is to be ready and willing to pitch in during a time of need.

The new building — located at one of the premier training ranges in New England if not the country -- will eventually stand as a testament to the excellence of the 86th Brigade and the Vermont National Guard.  With its considerable space and advanced wiring, the building will help brigade carry out its missions, whether abroad or here in the State in response to an emergency.

The building will be L-E-E-D certified, helping sustain our magnificent environment, and only enhancing the Vermont National Guard’s reputation as a military environmental leader. The 86th Brigade and the Vermont Guard need and deserve facilities like this one.

We are all so proud of the Vermont National Guard -- of its equipment, of facilities like will be.  But most of all, we are proud of its people.  The whole state stands behind the 86th Brigade and its citizen-soldiers.  God bless the Vermont Guard and the United States of America.

Thank you.

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