There was an emotional send off on Tuesday morning at Burlington International Airport as Vermont Army National Guard members deployed overseas. The first 40 of 950 Army National Guard Soldiers deployed to Europe. The soldiers will be gone for up to one year and will conduct law enforcement tasks during their deployment.

Commander of the 172nd Law Enforcement Detachment ,Shawn Slaney, who recently proposed to his girlfriend Kelsey, said it is hard to leave his fiancé but a lot of hard work has gone in to this mission and he is excited. “This is where the rubber meets the road. I am extremely proud of our soldiers and the resilience they have shown. Nobody wants to leave a loved one behind but this is all part of the sacrifice”, said Shawn.

Kelsey and Shawn got engaged in June of 2020. They plan on having their wedding in March when Shawn returns. Kelsey Piper said preparing for the big day will be a nice distraction while her fiancé is gone. Piper said, “The separation is going to be hard but we have exciting things to look forward to. That is what’s going to keep me busy, planning a wedding.”

The soldiers who deployed have been preparing for this mission over a year. They are the first National Guard unit in the country to be nationally certified in DUI enforcement.

Sergeant First Class, Charlie Winn was saying goodbye to his wife, Amanda Winn, and his three children on Tuesday. Amanda said, “It’s great having the kids look up to somebody and so many people that we consider family but it’s definitely heartbreaking in another state.”

The families at home will be taken care of by the Vermont National Guard. They have resources set in place in the event that anything were to happen through their family readiness group. Family Programs offers tax preparation services, financial counseling, Veteran’s outreach, a 24-hour hotline, and much more. Unit family members are encouraged to reach out to their Family Programs Representative anytime.