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Letter to Jessica Wright, Assistant Secretary of Defense - Support for the National Guard and Reserve Outreach and Reintegration Programs

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today joined several colleagues in sending a letter to the Department of Defense requesting continued support for the National Guard and Reserve outreach and 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 benefits of these programs to our returning servicemen and women as well as the National Guard are well documented, and we look forward to working with your office to ensure their continued success throughout the time covered by the upcoming Continuing Resolution," reads the bipartisan letter signed by a group of 12 Senators.

Shaheen and Ayotte, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have worked closely to support the New Hampshire National Guard and ensure necessary resources to support the DCSP. In February, they joined Senators from other states in sending a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta requesting that the Pentagon support these vital outreach and reintegration programs.

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.

Since the program was instituted in 2007, thousands of service members and their families have been enrolled with the Deployment Cycle Support Program. The effort has generated meaningful results in many areas, including homelessness, unemployment, mental health, and family life issues. Based on surveys completed in 2011, 90 percent of service members and families reported that DCSP helped with issues related to military experience and trauma. Ninety-one percent reported that the program helped with financial issues, 88 percent with housing issues, 86 percent with marriage and relationship concerns, and 86 percent said the program helped with employment issues. Perhaps most notably, the program provides professional suicide prevention for returning service members and their families, and all of those members considered "at-risk" of suicide are being actively assisted with licensed support services. Care coordinators successfully intervened in 21 such suicide risk cases in 2011.

The text of the letter follows:

September 28, 2012

The Honorable Jessica L. Wright
Assistant Secretary of Defense
Reserve Affairs
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Wright,

As the Department of Defense implements the current Continuing Resolution (CR), we urge your continued support for National Guard and Reserve outreach and reintegration programs. The benefits of these programs to our returning servicemen and women as well as the National Guard are well documented, and we look forward to working with your office to ensure their continued success throughout the time covered by the upcoming Continuing Resolution.

Continuing resolutions pose unique challenges for the Department, particularly with respect to management and planning. Lack of detailed guidance from Congress adds uncertainty to an already complex budget process. However, despite these challenges we remain confident the Department will continue to faithfully execute all relevant Congressional directives.

Congress has consistently expressed its support for National Guard outreach and reintegration programs. In its FY2013 Defense Appropriations bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved up to $20,000,000 in Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program funds that were designated for "National Guard and Reserve outreach and reintegration programs." In prior years, Congress has demonstrated its support for these programs in a variety of ways including through its appropriations bills and the National Defense Authorization Act.

Thus far, the Department's support for these programs has been encouraging. To that end, we look forward to working with your office and the National Guard to find the funding required to sustain these state-led programs throughout the CR and beyond.

We appreciate your attention to this important matter and look forward to your response. Thank you for your continued service on behalf of our men and women in uniform and our nation.

Sincerely,

Jeanne Shaheen
Bernard Sanders
Patrick Leahy
Ron Wyden
Frank Lautenberg
Amy Klobuchar
Al Franken
Patty Murray
Kay Hagan
Robert Menendez
Jeff Merkley
Kelly Ayotte


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