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By Joshua Cohen
Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
Eliminating the stigma around seeking mental health services is a goal for John Brutzman, the Vermont Guard’s new substance abuse prevention coordinator.
“When I started this job, I would often hear that a solider could get trouble for seeking psychological health services, it’s just not the case, and I would like to see that stigma eradicated,” he said.
Brutzman works in the Behavioral Services office at Camp Johnson in Colchester, VT, he said his job varies day to day.
“If someone has an issue with substance abuse, I keep that individual up to date through the Army Substance Abuse Process,” he said.
Planning and working with Vermont Guard units across the state, Brutzman said he provides instruction for engaged training, and works on mental health surveys conducted at the unit level.
“I work with the mental health surveys that go out to units asking questions such as how you are feeling, do you have any suicidal thoughts, key questions designed to uncover potential mental health and other issues that Soldiers may have, I help units with the tools in order to be that first call whenever a Solider is in need,” he said.
Brutzman, a traditional Guardsman, was hired for his current position in 2021.
Army experience, training in suicide prevention and youth crisis management training and a personal dedication to the mission earned him the position. “The hiring staff knew I was familiar with the mental health and substance abuse prevention,” he said.
Brutzman said having a Vermont Guard member in the position helps break down barriers.
“There have been times when I told Solders that I’m in the guard and there have been times I have not, you can instantly see the difference in those who are told they can immediately relate to me at that Solider-to-Solider level,” he said.
In his military career Brutzman serves as an 11B infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 172 Infantry (Mountain). “I joined because I wanted to serve my country in the armed forces.”
Regarding his current position, Brutzman said, “this was a best-case scenario for where I’d like my career to go, everyone in our office works well together, we’re a team in every sense of the word and with how personable our staff is, I really see that about seeking mental health services stigma going away,” he said.
Behavioral Services, located in the Green Mountain Armory at Camp Johnson, provides short-term mental health counseling for Service members and their families, in addition to mental health evaluations and assessments, substance misuse assessments, crisis interventions, psychological education such as suicide prevention and substance abuse prevention, and referrals to medical professionals. For additional information, please see the Behavioral Services web page.