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By Sgt. 1st Class Jason Alvarez
Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, Vermont Adjutant General, was honored with the “Friend of Broadcasters Award” at the Vermont Association of Broadcasters (VAB) Hall of Fame Awards Banquet in Burlington Vermont, December 3rd. Knight is the fourth recipient of the award since its inception nearly 30 years ago.
VAB is a non-profit trade association that represents commercial and non-commercial radio and television stations in Vermont. Their mission is to keep the radio and television industry “vibrant, vital, and strong” in the state. VAB and the Vermont National Guard’s mutually beneficial relationship goes back many years.
The Vermont National Guard public affairs office works closely with local media and VAB to communicate a variety of events and information. Of recent note, communication was crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the VTNG helped the state communicate testing and vaccine clinic times and locations, food distribution points and windows for pick-up, and any other pertinent information for the public. The VAB has also helped the VTNG to communicate other robust topics such deployments, public facility tours, and becoming the first Air National Guard Wing to fly the F-35A Lightning II.
“The media played a crucial role in communicating our efforts to the public. They did a great job, because all of our vaccine clinics, testing sites, and food distribution points were well attended. It was because of our relationship that we were able to make this happen,” added Knight.
Local news stations have also played an important role in helping the Vermont National Guard communicate to Veterans about signing up for the VA Open Air Hazards and Burn Pit Registry. Hundreds of Veterans in Vermont, from all branches of service, have signed up for the registry. Registrations have tripled over the last two years, in large part because of internal and external communication efforts by Knight, the VTNG public affairs office, and subsequent reporting from local media. “Increasing awareness of the burn registry was one of my top priorities when I came into office,” said Knight. “I am certainly pleased with our efforts and results, but we need to now shift our focus to publicizing the recently passed PACT act to our Veterans.”
Not one to shy away from negative news, Knight requested an outside review of the Vermont National Guard through an Organizational Assessment by the National Guard Bureau. Knight actively communicated the findings and recommendations from the report with Vermont Guard members, legislators, the public and every other Adjutant General across the nation. Knight then held a media round table at Camp Johnson and welcomed the most difficult of questions.
Relationships between the VAB and the VTNG allows for reporting on missions the Guard performs all over the world. Vermont reporters have embedded with Vermont Soldiers in Afghanistan and are preparing to join them in Senegal for a medical readiness exercise (MEDREX). The MEDREX training is one aspect of Vermont’s partnership with Senegal in the State Partnership Program (SPP). These kinds of missions provide broadcasters in the state with very engaging and informative stories for the general public. Without a healthy working relationship between the VTNG and VAB these stories would not get the coverage they deserve.
When asked about the significance of the award from VAB, Knight said “This is a validation of the work that we do with the Vermont Association of Broadcasters and all of our media partners. Our public affairs teams do an outstanding job of working with local and national media, and our communities. We have amazing people in public affairs, and I can’t thank them enough. They ensure we provide maximum disclosure with minimum delay.”