Joshua R. Pallotta joined the Vermont National Guard in 2009 knowing he would deploy to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. When Josh told us he was joining I immediately sought support through the Vermont National Guard Parent Network where I met a group of wonderful Moms and Dads. Out of this group a handful of us wanted to give back and do more for our boys (kind of without them thinking we were helping them). So, we did a lot of research and found Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. We chartered the first Vermont Chapter in 2011 and do a lot of emergency financial support for Veterans. We also support two Veteran Transitional Housing facilities by cooking meals once a month, celebrate and support them for Thanksgiving and Christmas with dinners, gifts, cookies, etc., assist them with gift cards for Veterans who are transitioning out into their own apartments, and established the Pet Program. As the chartering President and current Vice President (term ending August, 2017), I did a lot of advocating for our Veterans.
While my son was deployed they lost two of their brothers. Josh never really came home from that. He struggled with physical injuries (back issues due to being in mortars), and Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). On September 23, 2014 he lost his battle with PTS and ended his life. After he died I went to Washington, D.C. to testify before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs to support the Clay Hunt Act (which I didn’t know was why I was there but it was good to be there.)
Since then I have done a lot to raise awareness because I tell our story any chance I have the opportunity to. We are very open about how Josh died because we know we can’t help anybody else if we don’t tell our story. After Josh’s death, because of my work with Blue Star Mothers of Vermont, we started receiving a lot of donations. People wanted to do something to help. We were very thoughtful in what we wanted, what our Veterans needed. We talked to a lot of Veterans and from what we heard, we knew they really needed and wanted a place to just hang out and be with others who shared the same story.
So, we decided to develop Josh’s House VT which will be a wellness recreation center offering chiropractic care, massage, complementary and alternative healing modalities, a meditation room, a gym, video and game room, meeting and study rooms, a full kitchen for community dinners and cooking lessons, and more.
We won’t stop until there is an end to Veteran suicide. #ForJoshua