ALPENA - During the briefing of the Michigan Senate Committee on Veterans, Maj. Gen. Greg Vadnais, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard, reported an overview of the updates of Michigan National Guard.
According to Vadnais, today in Michigan the National Guard deploys and mobilizes the majority of people to Afghanistan, with airmen scattered throughout the world - and more will be deployed throughout the month - but due to budget cuts the president has chosen to reduce the Air Force budget.
Vadnais said the budget has been reduced to $480 billion, and the Air Force was requested to pay 61 percent of the bill while reducing 25 spaces from Alpena.
"We non-concurred and pushed back hard," Vadnais said. "Through tremendous support, we put the brakes on the process. Nationally and in the state of Michigan, I'd say we made great progress, but you know how things go. This has been a horrendous fight."
However, Vadnais said the National Guard intends to put additional airplanes on Selfridge Air National Guard Base and retain the spaces at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, but negotiations still are being conducted.
According to Vadnais, the National Guard will celebrate 375 years of history while defense budget issues become a priority to meet the needs of the state.
"We will maintain capabilities at the capacity we need. We can do this in the Guard, we're more than capable of stepping up to the plate," Vadnais said.
Jason Allen, senior deputy director for veterans affairs, said utilizing benefits and bringing awareness to what is out there for veterans like the GI Bill, disability benefits, and unemployment for veterans can affect lives.
According to Allen, 8,000 to 10,000 veterans return from Afghanistan each year and join the workforce. His focused concerns were on connecting skill trades of workforce while addressing veteran needs when returning.
Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5687.