An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Vermont National Guard Logo News
News | Sept. 9, 2022

Vt. citizen Soldier honors those lost to suicide

By Don Branum Vermont National Guard Public Affairs

“Twenty-two a day” is a phrase many veterans use to talk about suicide awareness within the veteran community. It’s a number John Brutzman, the Vermont National Guard’s substance abuse prevention coordinator, is working to decrease.

Brutzman, a native of Montclair, New Jersey, also serves as a suicide prevention coordinator. He’s asking Soldiers to take time on World Suicide Prevention Day to learn the warning signs that someone might be considering suicide and to know what they can do to help.

“The Army breaks records every year in suicide,” Brutzman said. “We’ve lost more service members to suicide than to the War on Terror.”

One measure Brutzman has taken to raise awareness is visible in front of the Fallen Heroes Memorial on Camp Johnson. This weekend, 22 flags will line the walkway leading to the memorial, symbolizing the 22 veterans per day who die from suicide.

“Vermont hasn’t been immune to the 22-a-day statistic, even being the second-smallest state population-wise,” Brutzman said. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 18 veterans died from suicide in 2019, comprising one in six of the state’s total 107 suicides that year.

“This is one of the main drivers for my continued efforts to support our veteran population and our effort to encourage our Soldiers, Airmen, and veterans to ask for help if they need it,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, Vermont’s adjutant general. “I did it. There can be no stigma associated with it. People are our greatest assets, both during and after their service.”

The Fallen Heroes Memorial is a new location for the flags, which previously stood in front of Camp Johnson’s front gate.

“Since Capt. (Trevor) Pituck left, it came up to me, and I said, ‘Let’s do it by the memorial.’ I felt that was an appropriate homage.”

Brutzman joined the Vermont National Guard in 2016, about the same time he started attending Norwich University. He’s been assigned to D Co., 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry (Mountain), 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) as an infantryman, and he deployed with the unit to Southwest Asia in 2021. He will put on his uniform one last time this weekend.

In his civilian position, Brutzman trains and appoints suicide intervention officers, who keep tabs on the overall mental well-being of the Soldiers and Airmen in their units and serve as points of contact for the Behavioral Services office. But those SIOs can’t do the job alone, Brutzman said: Everyone should know how to recognize signs that someone is in trouble.

“Overall, if you have a friend who’s withdrawn when they’re usually outgoing, or if they’re abusing substances like alcohol, drinking too much, lack of self-care and hygiene,” Brutzman said. The Vermont National Guard’s suicide prevention page also includes a list of direct and indirect warning signs: Soldiers might express a desire to harm themselves or may start talking about death or dying more regularly. They may also feel rage or anger, may engage in risky activities without taking precautions, and may exhibit anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings.

“I recommend talking about it and breaking the stigma,” Brutzman said. “We can work through it together.”

Brutzman said someone can support a friend who’s having a rough time with mental health by listening and helping them connect with mental health professionals as needed. Anyone who needs help can call 802-503-2433 or dial 988 and select Option 1. More resources are available at

National Guard News
An officer with Louisville Metro Police's Hazardous Incident Response Team gets out of his hazardous material suit after working a simulated scenario with the help of Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Dormbrusch, 12th CST, New Hampshire National Guard, during a training event at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., March 13, 2023. National Guard CSTs from eight states participated in the one-day exercise.
Kentucky Civil Response Team Hosts Multi-agency Exercise
By Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Crane, | March 17, 2023
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – If there ever were an incident at the Churchill Downs Racetrack requiring the specially trained chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) unit of the National Guard, thanks to training done this...

Alaska Air National Guard Airman 1st Class Heather Pope is a ground transportation specialist with 176th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 176th Mission Support Group, 176th Wing. Pope worked to lose 133 pounds to enlist a day before her 40th birthday, the cutoff age to join the military.
Arctic Guardian Overcomes Obstacles to join Alaska Air Guard
By David Bedard, | March 17, 2023
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Rain boots. An old pair of rain boots was the difference between Airman 1st Class Heather Pope realizing her dream of becoming an Airman or a lifetime of wondering what could have...

Col. Jason Glass, Tennessee National Guard’s assistant adjutant general–air, and Nashville Mayor John Cooper place a commemorative wreath on former President Andrew Jackson’s tomb at Jackson’s home, The Hermitage, outside Nashville March 15, 2023. The ceremony took place on what would have been Jackson’s 256th birthday.
Tennessee Guard Honors Former President Jackson
By Lt. Col. Marlin Malone, | March 16, 2023
HERMITAGE, Tenn. – A wreath-laying ceremony honoring former President Andrew Jackson on what would have been his 256th birthday was held March 15 at Jackson’s home, The Hermitage, outside Nashville.During the ceremony, Col...

Guardian Angels of 212th Rescue Squadron exit a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II during a training exercise. Members of the 212th RQS jumped from a 211th RQS HC-130J into Pilot Station, Alaska, March 8, 2023, and evacuated a critically injured patient on a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk.
176th Wing Guardian Angels Parachute to Pilot Station for Medevac
By Maj. Chelsea Aspelund, | March 16, 2023
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - During a complex medevac involving three 176th Wing Guardian Angel teams, two HC-130J Combat King II aircraft and one HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, a combat rescue officer and a...

Fifteen New York Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa became U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti City, Djibouti, Mar. 10, 2023. The Soldiers, all belonging to the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, are on a 9-month deployment.
NY Guard Soldiers Become Citizens During African deployment
By Staff Sgt. Alexander Rector, | March 16, 2023
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti – Fifteen New York Army National Soldiers serving with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa became U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti March 10.The Soldiers,...