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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

Vermont Guard Says Suicide Prevention Requires Outreach, Resilience Training

Peter Biello
The Vermont Army National Guard meets to discuss its suicide prevention system. Left to right: Brooke Lockwood-Cole, Director of Psychological Health; Andre Wing, Vermont Veteran Outreach Program Team Leader; Col. Martin Lucenti; Laura Gibson, VA Services

The Vermont Army National Guard says it has the right systems in place to help prevent enlisted and veteran soldiers suffering from PTSD or other combat-related injuries from committing suicide.

This statement comes after the suicide last week of Vermont Army National Guard Private First Class Joshua Pallotta. It’s the ninth suicide the Vermont Guard has seen in the past decade.

The Guard says it uses an outreach program to help soldiers who may be having a hard time coping with stress. The guard confirms that it had been in touch with Pallotta, but declined to comment on specifics.

Colonel Martin Lucenti says the guard could use more resources for its outreach efforts. He says resilience training helps young soldiers cope with things like alcohol abuse, relationship and identity issues, and frequent deployments.

“I think often it sounds like we’re just trying to pay lip service to the topic when we talk about resilience," Lucenti says. "But the reality is that we can only be there so much, so the key is, can we mitigate the stresses that put them over the top and can we strengthen their ability to deal with the stresses that are facing them.”

Lucenti says more than a quarter of Vermont National Guard soldiers live outside of Vermont, which makes it difficult to reach every soldier who may need help.

The Guard is currently reviewing the details of Joshua Pallotta’s suicide.


Peter was a Producer/Announcer at VPR until 2015. He began his public radio career in 2007 at WHQR-FM in Wilmington, North Carolina where he served as Morning Edition host and reporter, covering county government and Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. His work has won several Associated Press awards and has appeared on NPR's All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, and PRI's This American Life. A graduate of the creative writing program at the University of Maine at Farmington, Peter enjoys writing, cooking and traveling.
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