Touched by recent tragedies

Windham County residents have been touched by upsetting events in recent months.

You might have read about a murder in the news or you might be returning to the workplace you shared with the victim.

You might have heard about yet another overdose death, or you might be one of the families who knows that each harrowing statistic is a real human being.

You might be one of the public safety professionals who was on the scene. You might be the EMT who did their best.

You might know a family that was affected because your kids go to school together. You might be a family member surviving a tragedy with other family members. You might be the bystander who called for help.

The above generalities are nothing more than a portrait of just a few of the many roles that individual Vermonters are living and surviving in. You might resemble none of the individuals just described, or several of them. There are, of course, many, many more that we could name.

You know your role in the community the best. Both how difficult events touch you, and what role or role you take as you respond. (And we'd love to hear from you - see below.)

As legislators, we are no different. We've been touched by recent tragedies. We are also, individually and together as your Windham County delegation, working to find our role in responding to and learning from recent events.

As we consider this, we carry wise words from Representative Becca Balint, speaking at the recent vigil in Brattleboro held for Leah Rosin-Pritchard, Groundworks staff, and the whole community.

“Over the next weeks and months, we will sort out what the next steps need to be and what the actions are that we need to take,” Becca said. “But if we rush to those steps without grieving, without sitting in our sorrow, we will make mistakes because we are not thinking clearly. We are overwhelmed by the depth of the feeling.”

All of us who represent Windham County residents in the Legislature feel the same way. We wish there was something we could do - anything - to stem the losses that we have been feeling in our community.

As we've gone about our work in Montpelier, we've found daily small and large flaws in our social safety nets, our education system, our health care system, our public safety, judicial, and correctional systems, and others. Across our society, we are facing numerous and rapidly changing challenges that we are working to respond to.

There is no single answer, but your Legislature has been at work on many parts of the system. We're now home and sharing the work we are doing to support Vermonters.

If there is anything you want your state representative or your senators to know, or you need help from a legislator in accessing services from your state government, please call 802-828-2228 and leave a message, or reach us via legislature.vermont.gov.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, you can now call 988 anytime, day or night, for access to trained crisis counselors.

You can also text “VT” to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis. A live, trained crisis counselor will text you back right away.

Take care.

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