Vermont, USA –
There are many constants in the Vermont Army National Guard, and one of those constants is opportunity.
As of October 1st, 2022, Soldiers across Vermont have a new chance for unique benefits and training opportunities that opened up.
The Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Assistance Support Element (CASE) is now open to all Vermont National Guard Soldiers regardless of military occupational specialty or duty location. The CASE is a 200-person element with Vermont providing 100 Soldiers, and Massachusetts providing the other 100.
“It has previously been under the Brigade Engineer Battalion Command and was only open to engineer Soldiers in the Vermont Guard,” explained U.S. Army 1Lt. Kathleen Ambrose, the officer in charge of the CASE. “Now it’s opened up to the entire state to try and get as many volunteers as possible.” The CASE is an element of the Homeland Response Force (HRF) directed by the Secretary of Defense and coordinated by the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, and upon consent of the Governor(s) during major catastrophic Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) incidents.
“The primary focus is responding to terrorist incidents. If there are industrial accidents or natural disasters that present a need for our capabilities we respond,” said U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Daniel Caddy, non-commissioned officer in charge of the CASE “One of the designs for the CASE is Domestic Support to Civil Authorities where we fall into the incident command system and are subordinate to the civilian response capability.”
The CASE has several vital roles in the event of a CBRN incident. One of those roles is to assist in the movement casualties to higher levels of medical treatment. They also maintain the integrity of the decontamination site, providing control at the entry and exit points. The CASE also provides security for the HRF, allowing them to focus on search and extraction, decontamination, casualty search and recovery, and the medical needs of casualties.
“If we get an alert we have to be at our muster point within six hours, then move to the incident within 12,” said Caddy “We’re not the first responders. When we arrive the command will already be set up and we’d fall into the incident action plan.”
One of the mandatory training requirements is that all CASE members are trained and certified to the HAZMAT Operations Level, with a focus on responding to weapons of mass destruction incidents.
In January the CASE completed an Operations Level course at the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho. The 32-hour course was led by a mobile training team from the Texas A&M Engineering Extension.
“This certifies the Soldier to respond to HAZMAT incidents at the operations level,” explained Caddy. “The HAZMAT operations level is more defensive when it comes to HAZMAT incidents. There are a lot of benefits to being a member of the CASE. The HAZMAT Awareness and Operations Certification is valuable not just to the military, but also in civilian careers said Caddy. The primary uses are in transportation, law enforcement, emergency medical service, and firefighting. There are a lot of career opportunities across the state and New England that require this certification.”
Once this certification is completed, Soldiers can attend training centers located all over the country for additional certifications. Caddy says the additional training is paid for by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“One of the schools is the Incident Response to Terrorist Bombing in Socorro, New Mexico, said Caddy. “There students learn about homemade explosives and how bad actors employ them in addition to mitigating them. We’re also looking to send Soldiers to is an 80-hour course in Colorado to certify them as WMD Hazardous Materials Technicians for surface transportation.”
Caddy talked about the numerous opportunities throughout the Vermont National Guard that are domestic operations and why he chose to serve.
“I joined the Guard not just to serve my country over sees but also serve my state. The Homeland Response Mission is a true Guardsmen mission. If there is an event here domestically, the Homeland Response Force will be the primary responder for the National Guard. So, if something bad happens here, I’ll be the guy running towards it and directly helping my fellow citizens.”
The CASE is an additional duty that trains three times a year with additional opportunities for schools all over the U.S. Soldiers interested in learning more about or volunteering for the CASE, can email firstname.lastname@example.org.