The Vermont National Guard is taking a hard look in the mirror following a report critical of the organization’s handling of sexual harassment complaints and its “good old boy” culture.
“I knew we had areas where we needed to improve,” said the Guard’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Gregory Knight. “And that’s what we’re going to do.”
Knight says he requested an in-depth assessment of the culture at Guard in 2019, shortly after he took over command. The study examined hiring practices, how guard members are disciplined and how the organization handles reports of sexual harassment and other misconduct.
The 113-page report found that the Guard lacked clarity in dealing with misconduct; failed to properly track and report allegations of sexual harassment; and fostered an environment in which some members feared retaliation for speaking out. The report included more than 30 recommendations for improvement.
“It’s important for us as a military to adapt to what society sees right now and I think its incumbent upon me to provide that level of transparency,” Knight said.
Governor Phil Scott weighed in on the findings during his press briefing Tuesday.
“Culture is very difficult to change in every regard,” Gov. Scott said. “I can’t say I’m surprised. It’s unfortunate. I’m disappointed, but I’m not surprised.”
Knight says he has since shared the report with 53 other Guard commands around the country in hopes to improve the organization as a whole. He says some procedural findings in the report will be an easy fix, but other improvements will take more time.
“I think the best way to get at that is to have small group discussions,” he said. “Let’s have those open, candid, professional, and sometimes, uncomfortable conversations.”