Valerie Pallotta is an Army mom, whose son Josh deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. After returning home, Josh suffered with Post Traumatic Stress for several years. Unfortunately he lost that battle in 2014.
Valerie talks about that battle and what she's been doing now to help make sure other veterans have the resources they need to get through their own struggles.
Her number one piece of advice if you notice a loved one is struggling with post traumatic stress is to ask their friends to reach out to them. Often times the individual won't want to talk about their troubles with a spouse, a parent, or other family. They may be more willing to talk to a friend about it though.
Links & Resources
Scott DeLuzio: 00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we talk about issues affecting veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I'd like to ask a favor if you haven't done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcasts. If you've already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience and while you're there, click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes as soon as they come out. If you don't use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcasts.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our emails. I'm your host Scott DeLuzio and now let's get on with the show.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:44 Hey everyone. Today my guest is Valerie Pallotta:. Valerie’s son Josh served with my brother Steven in the Vermont Army National Guard. Josh was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and upon returning home he struggled with some physical injuries as well as post-traumatic stress. Valerie is here today to talk with us about some of the struggles her son went through and what she's doing now to help other veterans who are struggling the way Josh did. Valerie, I'm truly grateful that you're willing to share your story. Welcome to the show. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and your son, Josh.
Valerie Pallotta: 01:20 Thanks Scott. I really appreciate being here and the time you’ve given me to talk about Josh. As you said, I'm Josh's mom.
Valerie Pallotta: 01:33 I don't know if you want me to talk a little bit about his background and growing up but he was a pretty determined kid ever since he was little. He started to ride his bike and he spent all day learning how to ride his bike. He actually mastered it in one day. He was pretty determined in high school. He wanted to play lacrosse and they didn't have a lacrosse team at the high school he was in. So, he and I went to the athletic director and got the approval to start a lacrosse team and they said you just need to come up with the names of kids to play and here's how many kids you need. And he said, okay, I can do it. And he went and did it and we went to the Superintendent and then he approved it.
Valerie Pallotta: 02:18 Colchester High School had the lacrosse team and he was just pretty determined and stubborn. He was a very stubborn person but he really struggled. He struggled in high school a lot. He was pretty smart, very, very intelligent but he was very lazy. So, that affected him throughout his early adult life. He barely graduated from high school. He was very unorganized. Once he graduated high school, he was trying to decide what he wanted to do with his life. College was not really in the cards for him. Even though he attempted, homework wasn't a thing that he wanted to do. So, it just didn't happen. So, we actually told him if he didn't find a job that he needed to move out and we gave him three months of a deadline of when he needed to move out and he didn't find a job. He ended up moving out and living with a friend and then he ended up getting a job at TSA doing airport security. And actually, that's where he met people who were in the guard and he met Erin Twitchell and he decided that he wanted to join because he knew they were going to Afghanistan. So that's, in a nutshell, how we got from there to here with his military service.
Scott DeLuzio: 04:16 So let's get to the point right before he was deployed. So, when he was deployed, you and your family got involved with the parent network with the unit that he was deployed with which I'd imagine a lot of parents were involved with at the time. Then you found your way into an organization called the Blue Star Mothers of America.
Valerie Pallotta: 04:49 So, what happened with that is, Josh is our only child so I freaked out when he said he was going to join. I knew he was going to Afghanistan and of course I was very proud and then very scared. So, the Guard had a lot of resources and one of them was the parent network as you mentioned. And it was strictly parents in this group. There were no spouses because parents have different issues than spouses do when their children are in the service. So, it was a really good support network. And out of that, there was a group of us moms who really wanted to do something to give back and support our boys when they came home. And I did a lot of research to see what we could do.
Valerie Pallotta: 05:46 That's where we found Blue Star Mothers of America. And then through that we realized that Vermont did not have a chapter, so we chartered the first Blue Star Mothers of Vermont chapter. I was the chartering president and I was involved for quite a few years. So, that's how that came about. We would do a lot of financial support for emergency support for veterans and supporting Gold Star families. There were a couple of veteran transitional housing facilities here in Vermont in the area and we would support them by providing meals and things like that once a month for veterans and Christmas and holiday gatherings. So, that's the whole parent network, Blue Star Mothers. That's how that evolved.
Scott DeLuzio: 06:40 Awesome. I think that is an important thing to note too for other parents who might be listening to this who have their adult children who are being deployed in the military involved with it knowing that there are support groups for the parents out there too because it's not an easy thing to see your child go off as an adult to war and to have to go through all that.
Valerie Pallotta: 07:11 Well one of the things about Blue Star Mothers though is that we were so limited on our time and our availability that we had to narrow the purpose and the focus of Blue Star Mothers to just financial support and actually less of emotional support. So, I know that they've been talking about offering another parent group for emotional support for parents. So, I can look into that too. But right now, that was really what their focus now is providing that financial support for veterans’
Valerie Pallotta: 07:54 and they have a pet program for veterans. Terry Sabans is a Pet Program Coordinator and she has paired up pets, mainly dogs with veterans who are struggling. It's been a pretty good program.
Scott DeLuzio: 08:10 Okay. That's a lot of support. I know you said you had to tone it back a little bit and scale it down. But that's still a lot of support going into that network for the veterans and everyone who's involved there. So, that's still pretty awesome. Let's fast forward a little bit in time here. So, we were talking a little bit about your involvement with the group before the deployment and during the deployment. But let's fast forward to August of 2010. So, at this point, Josh and the unit that he was with in the Vermont National Guard. He's in Afghanistan and something pretty terrible happens. So, my brother Steven and Tristan Southworth were killed on the 22nd of August. And I know that day affected a lot of people. Obviously, it affected me and my family. But also, the people who were there, the soldiers who were there that day it certainly affected them. How did that day, it's probably not just one day but it was probably a culmination of things that happened throughout the entire deployment affect Josh?
Valerie Pallotta: 09:38 Well as you know, from other soldiers who were there, it
Valerie Pallotta: 09:47 affected him in a really pretty bad way. He was pretty involved when Steven and Tristen were killed. Josh had never known death before. He turned 21 in April of 2010. So, he was fairly young. He had only known one person really who was sort of close to him, but not really. When he was in high school, he was a freshman and he played football and there was a senior student who was playing football and I guess he took him under his wing and helped him out at the gym and he ended up dying in a car accident. And Josh didn't really know him more than that piece of the gym and things like that but he cut out his obituary and he hung it on his wall and he left it there. When Steven and Tristan were killed, he never got over that. Never, I mean he's gone now and it was just
Valerie Pallotta: 11:10 something that he just could not get out of his memories, out of his dreams, his nightmares. He sought help after; he was seeing a counselor and I think the survivor's guilt was really bad with him. I mean it's affected me too, obviously. I mean, this was a very horrific time as you know, and you just don't get over that.
Scott DeLuzio: 11:53 Yeah, absolutely. And you know, by saying it was a horrific time is certainly accurate. Were there stages that he went through when he got back, did you notice different stages? I know that a lot of times people talk about different stages of grief and things like that people might go through but did he experience things all at once or was there some sort of process that he went through stages that you went through?
Valerie Pallotta: It was pretty much stages that you went through. He was still living in his apartment when he got home and he had a job that he was going to for a little bit of time. And then a few months went on and he would have to get up to be at the airport for 5:00 AM and he was living with some roommates who party until 5:00 AM.
Valerie Pallotta: 12:52 So, that was not a very good situation for him. So, he moved out of there and moved back home and then he started not sleeping so he wouldn't get up for work. And my husband changed his hours at work and started working from home so he could actually get Josh up in the morning to just help him get in the shower and just get out of bed. Then we ended up asking him to move out again because he lost his job at TSA after he called out 54 times or something like that. They tried to help him. There are a lot of veterans who work there. I don't know if he's a manager, what his position is, but Bruce McDonald is a veteran himself and they tried to give him a lot of support services and things like that and he just wasn't getting through. So, he lost his job and then moved out of the house and he had a girlfriend at the time. He met her on leave when he was on leave in June. And he ended up moving into an apartment or in a shared house with my nephew and his wife. And then my nephew and his wife bought a house, so, they moved out and here Josh was with his girlfriend and this huge old historic house with no job.
Valerie Pallotta: 14:29 He actually wanted to borrow money from us and asked me and I told him no thinking that tough love would help.
Valerie Pallotta: 14:42 It went for nine months where my son wouldn't talk to me. I thought tough love would be the thing and would help him. And I said, Blue Star Mothers is out there and there are a lot of other agencies you can apply for assistance. And it was a very volatile time with he and I and we never recovered that before he ended his life. So, he ended up getting another job. He was still talking to my husband. He got another job. He moved, broke up with his girlfriend and he moved to Burlington. He got an apartment in Burlington and he found a job making sandwiches. And he absolutely loved the job. He could walk to work. He told my husband, he said, “Dad, I'm making sandwiches. And I love it.” It's like I'm washing floors, I'm making sandwiches. And he was just so proud. And then he could walk to work. He had a great relationship with the other people in the apartment building and then the place that he was working at closed.
Valerie Pallotta: 15:55 So when you talk about stages, I mean, he was not doing well. He got better. He told my husband, he said, “every time I take a step forward, something happens and I take three steps back.” So, it was a combination of losing his job, the girlfriend thing I think was a good thing but it was a number of things that just piled up.
Scott DeLuzio: 16:27 It probably gave him that feeling of like what you might expect being in quicksand. It's like you feel like you're making progress but then you're slowly slipping back and almost feels like no matter how hard you're struggling, no matter how much you're doing, you're not ever really making progress. Even though you are doing the things that you're supposed to be doing to make those steps but then you don't quite feel like you're getting there. So, let's fast forward a little bit to September of 2014. So, at that time, he's been struggling for a few years with various things like you talked about losing a job and figuring out places to live and the money situation and all that. In September of 2014, Josh loses his battle with post-traumatic stress.
Scott DeLuzio: 17:43 As a parent myself, I can't imagine how tremendously difficult something like that must be. As a parent, to see your child struggle, trying to help them out in every way that you can, pointing them in the right direction and then seeing that culmination and what happens there. Anyone could completely shut down after going through something like that as a parent, but that's not really what you did, ultimately. You went on and you've been working what seems to me anyways tirelessly trying to help other veterans to not end up in that same situation. I'd love to talk to you a little bit about what you're doing now and the fund that you've created and all the other things that you've been involved with to help veterans. So, maybe we could start with the fund and what that's all about.
Valerie Pallotta: 18:53 Sure. So just to step back just a little bit when he found out about his job closing, they had a work party on Sunday and on Tuesday morning at 2:50 AM is when he killed himself. So, it was just three days after he found out that the place was closing. So, it was the struggles and the stages went on for the four years and it was like that last straw was losing that job.
Scott DeLuzio: 19:36 Right. It seems like that one event in and of itself may not have been so disastrous but it was all those things adding up. It was like that last straw that broke the camel's back type of thing.
Valerie Pallotta: 19:53 So, because of my work with Blue Star Mothers, I was pretty well known in the community and people after Josh died, they just started donating money to Blue Star Mothers and people wanted to do something; it touched everybody. They just wanted to give back. So, they started donating money and our Blue Star Mothers put the money in a separate account and kept it separate. Then it got to the point where there was a lot of money and it was too much just still be held in Blue Star Mothers. So, my husband and I said we need to do something. I had done a lot of research on PTSD and veteran suicide even before Josh joined the Guard because I have a background in aroma therapy and I really wanted to support service members and veterans with post-traumatic stress back then.
Valerie Pallotta: 20:54 So, we just wanted to do something. I had always had this vision of complimentary therapies, complimentary healing modalities for post-traumatic stress. So, we had that piece and then we just started talking to veterans and asking them what would have helped Josh and what would help them. And the ones we talked to said we just want a place to hang out and be together and play video games. And that was it. Especially with veterans in the guard because they don't have a military base. They're one weekend a month, two weeks out of the summer and that's it. And they've gone from, as you know, they've gone from this year long, 24/7 together deployment to go back to nothing. And that was one of Josh's biggest problems was he lost that brotherhood. He didn't have that connection.
Valerie Pallotta: 22:01 Because of his physical injuries, he had gained so much weight that he couldn't work out. He was 300 pounds when he died, 280-290, something like that. I think it was 300. So, we decided that what we wanted to do was hold onto the money and just start raising money and find this space that veterans could come to get the wellness piece with aroma therapy, chiropractic, massage, yoga. All of the things that are coming out now as showing to be beneficial for post-traumatic stress and the things that doctors and your insurance isn't covering it. Tri-Care doesn't cover it. The VA, I have to say the VA is coming out with some of these programs and they are doing things like this now but there are a lot of veterans who don't want to go to the VA.
Valerie Pallotta: 22:57 So we want to offer an alternative for them if they don't choose to go to the VA. Then there's the recreational side of it. So, let's have a game room and a video room and a pool table and a gym and things like that where they can just come and distress and be together. And then we took it a little further and said, there are veterans who are going back to school. They've got little kids running around. They don't really have a place that's quiet to study. So, why don't we set up some study rooms in this place. So, we decided that we just wanted to put together a wellness rec center and then have a community kitchen for them to have meals. It's frustrating because as you know, the statistics are 20 to 22 veteran suicides a day and that's just documented.
Valerie Pallotta: 23:56 I think it's higher than that. I think the fact that people are still out there raising awareness of veteran suicide is archaic. I think we have to start doing something about it. People know about veteran’s suicide; so, let's start asking what they want. I mean, they might not even know. And I think the problem is that veterans aren't talking about it, especially with active duty soldiers because there's still a stigma of being demoted and being ridiculed if you talk about having a problem. And I just don't understand. It's just very frustrating to me that that's still an issue.
Scott DeLuzio: 24:44 There's probably still a little bit of the old school mentality of just suck it up, be a man, “deal with it” kind of thing. And the support that you would hope is there is not quite where it should be. Now I'm sure it's getting better in that regards. We're at a place where people are aware with the awareness piece that you're talking about. People are more aware that there are problems that people are going through and no one wants to see another soldier, another Marine, Airman, Sailor, anything like that hurt themselves or do things that are not going to help them but sometimes people just don't know what to do. Having a space like this that you guys have created is really a step in the right direction.
Scott DeLuzio: 25:51 I think more things like this should be done. Obviously, you're in the Vermont area and so that's great for the Vermont soldiers but there are soldiers all over the country that are looking for things like this. I actually spoke on the podcast a few weeks ago to someone who was from the VFW. And one of the things that the VFW offers is that comradery. Being able to get together with those like-minded people. And you know, maybe it's not necessarily, playing video games or whatever. Although I don't know, maybe they have that as well but there are organizations out there that allow veterans to come together with other veterans.
Valerie Pallotta: 26:44 But there's a stigma with that because a lot of the younger veterans think that those VFWs are old curmudgeon veterans who just sit around and want to compare war events. And my husband and I are our members of the VFW here at the local VFW and the Legion here in Vermont. And there are a few younger veterans from Joshua's unit who come. And that's it. They love to go. They go every Friday night. And I think that stigma's there though. And that's what the VFWs want to do. They want to provide that space. But that's another thing that needs to change is that mentality that it's just a place for the old Vietnam vets who just sit there and get drunk at 10 in the morning. Yes, there are some of those, but they do a lot of good here anyway.
Scott DeLuzio: 27:32 Right? Yeah. And that's what we talked about. I'll link to that episode in the show notes too for anyone who's listening, who wants to listen to that episode and hear what the VFW is all about; what they're doing and what their mission is. They do other things to not just provide a of community space, they advocate on behalf of veterans for different legislation and things like that. And it's really a great organization to dip your toe in the waters of getting back into that kind of community. It's not the drinking club of our grandparents’ era or whatever. Although, like you said, there's a little bit of that still goes on. But there are the younger generations that are participating in the VFW as well and the other veteran service organizations that are out there. They accept everybody so age is not an issue necessarily with that. So, you started the Josh Palotta fund and you created this safe space for these veterans to come to with other veterans and things like that.
Valerie Pallotta: 28:58 We created the vision for the space. We don't have the space yet. We're working on that. That's a money issue so we're in negotiations right now with an owner of a building that is actually in the old VA space in Colchester, Vermont, and the Fort. We had looked many times into purchasing a place or building a new place. And it was about a million dollars. So, a couple of things, we're looking at this space, we're in negotiations to lease it. Upstairs is already a tenant in there who is, I always screw up the name, but it's the Vermont center for first responder wellness or Vermont responder wellness center. I can get it mixed up, but he's Sunny Forbeto. He is doing exactly what we want to do but he does it for first responders and police officers and he's a former police officer. He's got a yoga studio up there.
Valerie Pallotta: 30:01 He does EMDR, he does biofeedback and he provides these services free to police and first responders and now he's starting to offer it to veterans. We're in this stage but I also want to start figuring out some sort of a mentoring program for veterans so that they can help other veterans. I also wanted to look at some sort of income generating business that can help sustain the center. I don't want to charge veterans or maybe we will charge a small membership fee or something like that but it's not ready yet, but I'm hoping that we're going to open it up in the beginning of the year. Mid-year, probably. There's a lot of work that needs to be done to it so we don't have the space yet but we're getting there, Scott.
Scott DeLuzio: 30:57 So anyone who's listening to this, I'm going to have a link to the fund's website and on the website there is a place that you can send donations and send all your donations to the fund to help get this kickstarted and move it in the right direction. Shortly after Josh died, you also went down to Washington to testify before the Senate committee on Veterans affairs. Would you talk a little bit about that? What it was that you were testifying on and what the legislation was that was involved with that?
Valerie Pallotta: 31:48 Yeah. So, I didn't know at the time what the legislation was for that I was going to be testifying for. And it was actually the Clay Hunt Act and I'm going to screw this up because I still don't know a lot about it, but Clay Hunt was a veteran who was an advocate who started a retreat program for veterans who are struggling with post-traumatic stress and he ended up ending his life, also. It has to do and I'm going to screw this up so I probably shouldn't even start talking about it but I'm going to screw it up. I got the call from Bernie Sanders’ office because I was in the news here, the local news about Josh's suicide and this Clay Hunt's mom Susan Sulkie was starting this bill for veterans.
Valerie Pallotta: 32:53 Bernie's office called me and asked me if I could go testify. And, of course, it was eight weeks out of Josh's death. So, and I had never flown alone before, which I know it sounds crazy, but I don't fly much. I don't ever go anywhere. And I flew alone and it was interesting because General Cray, the former Adjutant General of the Vermont National Guard was my seatmate and he was going down to DC for something else. After playing around with my seat the night before and messing around with it and then having General Cray sitting right next to me, I think that my boy was probably had his hand in that because I had his ear from Burlington to DC. So it was, it was actually a good thing. I think one of the things that I found out from that conversation was when I had talked about one of the things that I think is needed is that there needs to be more deprogramming when veterans come back from deployment. And what I was told was we don't have time. We are already training for the next mission. And I think that's wrong. That needs to be changed at a legislative level. And that is one of the next things I'll do once we get Josh's house built is to advocate to have a change at the legislative level of these men and women need time to decompress and
Valerie Pallotta: 34:42 deprogram and it's not happening. It's constant, mission-focused. When Josh and their unit came back, Josh told me flat out, mom, they asked me if I thought I had PTSD. Do you think I'm going to admit that I have PTSD? Of course, I do. I don't want to go to Fort Drum, I want to go home. They're not going to admit it, you know what I mean? That's just the stupid way to do it. And then they did a Yellow Ribbon event which was great. You've got guys who have been together for a year and they don't see each other for three months and then they put them together in a room and give them PowerPoint presentations. Granted, that's great information, but that needs to change. They don't want that after three months of being apart. They're all out drinking.
Scott DeLuzio: 35:38 I know from my own experience and obviously, my experience is a little bit different than the other people who I had deployed with because I came home on a little bit earlier after my brother was killed. But
Scott DeLuzio: 35:56 going to the Yellow Ribbon Program and sitting through those PowerPoint presentations, I'm thinking to myself, we have a group of guys here who just spent a year away from their families and now we're going to steal their weekend and sit them in front of a presentation on all this other stuff. Tri-Care and all these other things that's going in one ear and out the other. Essentially, they're thinking they want to go spend time with their family or go hang out with their friends or whatever it is that they want to do. The people that they haven't seen very much in the last year, I think they'd probably rather go and do that. Unfortunately, it's very well intentioned; I just don't think it's very well executed.
Scott DeLuzio: 36:46 And you know, it definitely could use some work in that regards to have a better execution on that. I don't have the answer for that.
Valerie Pallotta: 36:57 I do.
Scott DeLuzio: 36:58 Oh, okay. I'd love to hear it.
Valerie Pallotta: 37:02 So, my answer to that is that you let them come home, they get three weeks off, a month off, whatever it may be, and then they go back to their units and they do a 7-3 job, especially with the guard because, unless they're on orders, they're back to their civilian jobs. They're on vacation for three months or whatever. I think what needs to happen is they need to be reintegrated back into that military lifestyle but you treat it as active duty orders and it's a job from 7-3, 8-4 and then you go and you do PT, you have some counseling if you need it but then you go home to your families at night, right? And you do all these things to be compressed. You do the EMDR, you do the biofeedback, you do the counseling, we do the PT, do yoga, you do all of these things. But you teach these things before deployment, too to teach them these resiliency tools and I'm talking resiliency in terms of mindfulness, meditation, yoga, things that will help them to be in a state
Valerie Pallotta: 38:30 where they can get away from their nightmares. And I’m not saying that in a way that's making any sense. If you know what I mean. I think they need to start teaching those tools before deployment. And then you have the deployment and then you come back and you're doing all of these decompressing tools. You're still having time with your family, you're still with your brothers. And that's just, in my opinion and from the research I've done, what I think might be helpful. I mean, why not try it? I mean, what can it hurt?
Scott DeLuzio: 39:05 And looking at the statistics, I just saw a report earlier today that in the 10-year time period where on average about 6,000 military veterans killed themselves each year. When you look at the total number of combat losses, it doesn't even equal one year in Iraq and Afghanistan. It doesn't even equal one year's worth of the people that we lose at home. We're losing so many more people at home than we are in combat. It just doesn't make sense that whatever we're doing, it's like the saying, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Well, we've been doing the same thing over and over and we're not getting a different result. And unfortunately, something needs to change. Things like what you're working on and other organizations are working on. I think these are a step in the right direction to help with all of that stuff.
Valerie Pallotta: 40:21 But the sad thing is that my organization, Lucky DePalma's organization with the horse therapy, you know this but Lucky was in Josh's and Steven's unit. There are these organizations that are trying to do these things but we have no government funding. We are the Josh Pallotta fund and I'm sure Lucky's too, the Veteran Barn Door Project, they rely on donations and fundraisers and that's the only thing that we’ve been working on this for three years, I think. Josh died in 2014. The fund has been around but we didn't really come up with the idea for the first year after Josh died was just a total blur. It's frustrating because there is money out there but it's taking a long time to raise funds. And it's hard because these programs are showing to be beneficial. They work and that's the hard part. We know they've worked.
Scott DeLuzio: 41:39 It's like that's where the money should be going to with these organizations instead of whatever the bureaucracy and the government agencies wherever they're funneling the money is it hasn't been working. So, let's put it to someplace where it actually is going to work. Give it these other forms of therapy and other things that might be beneficial to try. You seem like you have a lot of good ideas on the subject. You are definitely making strides in the right direction. One last question for you, so let's just say someone has a loved one who is struggling with post-traumatic stress similar situation to your son.
Scott DeLuzio: 42:37 What would be something that you might tell that that person that they can do for their loved one who's struggling, either an organization that they could take them to or something that they can do because a lot of times people might experience what their loved one is going through some sort of issues, but they feel helpless. They don't know what to do. In your opinion, through your experience in talking to other people and seeing what's out there, what would you offer as advice to those people?
Valerie Pallotta: 43:26 I think I'm a horrible person to offer advice; honestly, because my boy didn't talk to me for nine months before he killed himself. And that's a guilt that I will live with for the rest of my life. I think it's hard when you're a loved one because I feel like you want to protect those that you love.
Valerie Pallotta: 43:52 I think it's hard for a loved one to say, “I recognize that you're struggling. Have you thought about going to this agency or this agency?”
Valerie Pallotta: 44:06 Our loved ones, who are struggling hide it from those who are closest to them, they want to protect them. They don't want to hurt them.
Valerie Pallotta: 44:21 What I think might help is if their loved one reached out to their friends and said “Scott's struggling, can you check in on him?”
Scott DeLuzio: 44:36 Hmm.
Valerie Pallotta: 44:38 So, some things that I've seen that help. I think the other thing is that when you're in that state of
Valerie Pallotta: 44:49 stress and worry and anxiety, it's really hard for them to not look at everything in one big picture. Josh was like so overwhelmed by everything that he couldn't just focus on one little thing. And I think if you can help them to break things down and figure out what is the biggest thing that's bothering them, if it's sleep, nightmares or a job or whatever, first of all, getting them out to exercise is huge. I mean, if you can take them on a river rafting trip or a hunting trip or skiing or something in nature, I think it is huge. Something physical is huge. It's going to take work, get them involved, help them find a purpose. I think when they lose their purpose, they lose their ambition and then their motivation.
Valerie Pallotta: 46:02 I think finding a sense of purpose is huge along with getting them moving their body. I don't know how you can get them off the couch playing video games to going for a run or whatever but I think friends are better able to get them moving, get them involved in a mentoring program with youth that are struggling,
Valerie Pallotta: 46:29 that will give them a purpose that will make them get out of bed and it will feel like they're serving a purpose and helping somebody.
Scott DeLuzio: 46:37 Right. I love that. I'm going to just rewind a little bit here and go back to something that you said that you're not the best person to talk about this. Respectfully, I'm going to disagree with that and say that I think that you're the perfect person to talk about this because you've gone through it, you've experienced these things and you have through learning about what you've done, you have a passion about this to make sure that other families don't go through something like your family went through. I would say that you're probably a perfect person to come up with some sort of advice like this. I think advice that you gave is spot on.
Scott DeLuzio: 47:32 One of the common things that I've heard through talking to other veterans are all things that you've talked about. So, they want a way to come together with their other military friends in a group setting; it doesn't necessarily have to be the people that they deployed with or that were in their unit or anything like that. But other like-minded military people, exercise is a huge thing for people. I think maybe even the biggest thing is that sense of purpose. Serving something that's bigger than themselves because really when you're in the military, that's what you're doing. You're serving your country. You're out there fighting for people that you don't know. You're fighting to defend a country of people who may or may not even be grateful that you're over there fighting. You're still doing it anyways because it's a purpose that's bigger than yourself.
Scott DeLuzio: 48:36 So whether it's through a church group or a school or some other organization like boy Scouts or girl Scouts or whatever, those types of things, something that is going to help other people can help you keep moving on. And that's a reoccurring theme that I've seen over and over and over again talking to other people who have struggled with things and have come out on the other side better by hitting rock bottom and discovering some of this stuff on their own.
Scott DeLuzio: 49:18 Everything that you talked about does resonate with other people. These are things that people definitely have used and tactics that help them move on and get through the issues that they're struggling with. So, before we wrap up, where can people go to find out more about the fund and everything else that you're involved in?
Valerie Pallotta: 49:51 So, I just have to give you a little warning, our website needs serious updating but you can go to our website. It's JoshPallottafund.org. It's P a L L O T T a.org. We have a Facebook page, we have a page Josh Pallotta fund Facebook page, and then we have a page that's in memory of Joshua R. Pallotta, which is a lot of just his friends and just a lot of things about him specifically. And then the Josh Pallotta fund Facebook page is more about our events and fundraising and things like that. And I share a lot of articles that have come out with the research. So, that can be pretty helpful too. I have my own Instagram page but I do post some of our events on there and I have a Twitter account. It's just Valerie Pallotta for both of them but specifically the website and the Facebook page.
Scott DeLuzio: 50:54 Perfect. I'll have links to all of those things in the show notes. So, anyone who's listening, click on the show notes for this episode and you can find links to all of that stuff. You can find out how you can help the Josh Pallotta fund and get the wheels moving to help build the house that get that space opened up for the Vets who need it. And thank you for being on the show and sharing your story and everything that you're up to.
Valerie Pallotta: 51:29 Thank you Scott. And I do want to say that this one house is not the one and only wellness rec center for veterans. I plan to create more throughout the state of Vermont and then expand out because there's nothing like it any place else. And I think this is needed. So, you're right, I do have a passion and I'm on a mission and this mom is not going to give up.
Scott DeLuzio: 51:50 I would not think, from talking to you, that you will. So, thank you for the passion that you have to help out veterans who are in need. And thank you again for being on the show and sharing your story.
Valerie Pallotta: 52:08 Thank you, Scott. I appreciate it and thank you for your service.
Scott DeLuzio: 52:12 Thank you.
Scott DeLuzio: 52:18 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, DriveOnPodcast.com we're on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @DriveOnPodcast.