U.S. Vets Secretary Visits Home for Discussion With CalVet Brass

U.S. Vets Secretary Visits Home for Discussion With CalVet Brass

October 20, 2016 (Yountville, CA)

California Dept. of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) Secretary Vito Imbasciani M.D., hosted U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) Secretary Robert McDonald and U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson of St. Helena for a visit to the California Veterans Home in Yountville on October 13.

Thompson invited Secretary McDonald to visit the home in Yountville so he could see the important services provided to veterans firsthand and discuss ways in which the home can work in partnership with the federal government.

The Secretary also learned about The Pathway Home, a non-profit based at the Yountville home that provides support to veterans transitioning to civilian life, with emphasis on student veterans.

“I was honored to meet with Secretary McDonald and Congressman Thompson and discuss our continued collaboration so California’s Veterans have prompt access to the highest quality of care and benefits that they earned through their service,” said Imbasciani.

This was McDonald’s first tour of the Home, the oldest veterans home in the United States.

“I’m honored that Secretary McDonald accepted my invitation to visit the Veterans Home in Yountville,” said Thompson. “This Veterans’ Home is a great example of our federal and state government working together alongside private partners to provide our veterans with the care they need. As a veteran, I firmly believe that one of our country’s greatest responsibilities is to care for the men and women who bravely served our country in uniform. Many thanks to Secretary McDonald Secretary Imbasciani and everyone with the Yountville Veterans Home for coming together this morning to ensure that out partnership remains strong and that our heroes in Yountville have the best possible care and support.

Participants in the visit included Don Veverka, administrator of the Veterans Home of California-Yountville, Bonnie Graham, San Francisco Veterans Affair Health Care System director, State Senator Lois Wolk, Assemblyman Bill Dodd, and other officials from The Pathway Home, including Yountville Mayor John Dunbar.

The veterans who reside at the home served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam Way, Desert Storm and in recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thompson has been an advocate for The Pathway Home and fought to secure funding for programs such as a grant program for Veterans Student Centers, that the Pathway Home would be eligible to receive.

Thompson also introduced legislation that was signed into law 2014 that launched a pilot program to allow all service members and veterans to receive treatment for post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) at certain non-VA care centers, like The Pathway Home that offer innovative treatment options.


Veteran receives free car from Napa auto body business

Veteran receives free car from Napa auto body business

Aug 12, 2016

A growing Napa family of four received a gift on Tuesday night that will make their lives much easier — and safer. And it came on four wheels.


Cassidy Nolan, 26, is a Napa resident and Marine Corps veteran. The young father and his wife Jillian have two girls — 3 years and 18 months old — and are expecting a baby in March.

There was just one problem. The family lacked a dependable car. Nolan has been driving a 12-year-old truck he bought years ago when he was still single and at Camp Pendleton.

Six years later, the truck has more than 150,000 miles on it and “is on its last leg,” Nolan said.

The family is afraid to use the unreliable truck to go on outings or trips. To top it off, next year Nolan plans to transfer from Napa Valley College to UC Berkeley and will be commuting to the university from Napa.

But thanks to Mike’s Auto Body of Napa, the family’s wheel worries have been greatly relieved.

The company, which has 15 locations in the Bay Area, presented the Nolans with a free 2015 Chrysler 200 sedan on Tuesday. The gift was part of the auto body’s Benevolence Program.

Seeing the car for the first time, “I was shocked. Surprised. Flabbergasted,” Nolan said.

“It was a huge gift. I am very honored to have this opportunity.”

“This car is absolutely perfect,” said Nolan. “It’s practically brand new, and it will last until the girls are in college.”

Sal Contreras at Mike’s Auto Body has been involved in the company’s Benevolence Program since its inception. He said he always gets excited when recipients see their cars for the first time.

“It is very satisfying, that’s for sure,” Contreras said.

This vehicle was provided by Hertz Rent A Car. It is the 60th such vehicle that Mike’s Auto Body has given away in the Bay Area.

Nolan was sponsored to receive the car by The Pathway Home, an organization that provides veterans with educational, professional and clinical support after military service. Eight technicians at Mike’s Auto Body donated their time to refurbish the vehicle.

The Nolan family also received a year of paid insurance and a trunk full of gifts.

In addition to the car, Nolan has been recently recognized in other ways for his service and community contributions.

Earlier this summer, Nolan was named the 2016 Veteran of the Year for the 4th Assembly District.

He also received a $4,000 scholarship from Community Projects, Inc. and a $6,000 scholarship from the George and Gwendolyn Goodin Scholarship, a fund of Napa Valley Community Foundation.

After he completes his education, “I’d like to become a business consultant, helping people achieve their goals,” Nolan said. “My business will involve veterans in some capacity.”

Besides presenting the Nolans with their vehicle, the event Tuesday evening at Mike’s Auto Body celebrated the recent expansion of the business. The facility, located at 827 Vallejo St., added 1,950 square feet of new offices, a new lobby and on-site parking.

“We’re excited about the new expansion and delighted to be able to provide jobs that help the local economy and the community,” said Mike Rose, owner of Mike’s Auto Body.


Napa Valley College student selected as Veteran of the Year

Napa Valley College student selected as Veteran of the Year


Assemblymember Bill Dodd selected Cassidy Nolan, center, as Veteran of the Year in the 4th Assembly District.  With Nolan at the Capitol ceremony is his wife, Jillian.

Veteran Cassidy Nolan, a 26-year-old Napa Valley Community College student, was honored Wednesday in the State Capitol as the 2016 Veteran of the Year for the 4th Assembly District.

Each year, the state Assembly honors one veteran from each of the state’s Assembly Districts who has significantly contributed to their local communities and served their country with honor and distinction.

“It was a privilege to be recognized along with veterans of all different generations from across California. This was a special day that highlighted the contributions of veterans,” Nolan said.

Nolan joined the military immediately after graduating high school in 2008, enlisting in the Marine Corps. He served two deployments in Afghanistan from 2008-2013 as Senior Intelligence Analyst and later as Intelligence Chief and Assistant Security Manager. During his service, Nolan received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. After completing his service in July 2013 with the rank of E-4 Corporal, Nolan enrolled at NVC to study business management.

“As we look ahead toward our Independence Day, it’s important to honor veterans like Nolan who have protected this nation and are now supporting other veterans as they return home,” Dodd said in a news release.

At NVC, Nolan became president of their Student Veterans Organization in 2013. As president, he acts as an ambassador between veterans and the college, and as a veteran he understands the difficulties and challenges that fellow veterans face when leaving the military. He provides outreach, college assistance, scholarships and other financial support for veterans attending NVC.

In his three years as president, Nolan has been instrumental in the transition and development of a new version of a Pathway Home in Yountville, which helps empowered veterans through education and adequate medical treatment.

Looking to the future, Nolan has plans to transfer to UC Berkeley to finish his studies in business management. When Nolan is not advocating for veterans or pursuing his education, he spends time with his wife and two little girls.


Those With Multiple Tours of War Overseas Struggle at Home

Those With Multiple Tours of War Overseas Struggle at Home

MAY 29, 2016

FORT WORTH, Tex. — The dinner crowd was sparse for a downtown steakhouse, a handful of families and couples lost in conversations. Ryan Lundeby, 32, an Army Ranger with five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, took in the scene from his table, seemingly meditative beneath his shaved head and long beard.

He was not.

“He watches, he’s always watching; he notices everything,” said his wife, Mary. “Superman noticing skills, that’s what I call it. Look, he’s doing it now — Ryan?”

“That table over there,” Mr. Lundeby said, his voice soft, his eyes holding a line. “The guy threw his straw wrapper on the ground. I’m waiting to see if he picks it up.”

He did not. Mr. Lundeby’s breathing slowed.

After 14 years of war, the number of veterans with multiple tours of combat duty is the largest in modern American history — more than 90,000 soldiers and Marines, many of them elite fighters who deployed four or more times. New evidence suggests that these veterans are not like most others when it comes to adjusting to civilian life.

An analysis of Army data shows that, unlike most of the military, these soldiers’ risk of committing suicide actually drops when they are deployed and soars after they return home. For the 85 percent of soldiers who make up the rest of the service and were deployed, the reverse is true.

“It’s exactly the opposite of what you see in the trauma literature, where more exposure predicts more problems,” said Ronald Kessler of Harvard, who led the study.

The findings may shed a clearer light on the need of this important group of veterans, whose experience is largely unparalleled in American history, in their numerous exposures to insurgent warfare, without clear fronts or predictable local populations. Researchers are finding that these elite fighters do not easily fit into the classic mold of veterans traumatized by their experience in war. As psychologists and others grow to understand this, they are starting to rethink some approaches to their treatment.

To read more, please follow this link to The New York Times.


A Powerful Reminder

A Powerful Reminder

00xp-VETS1-master675-v2‘Buddy Check on 22!’ Veterans Use Social Media to Fight Suicide

“Buddy check on 22! Where are my warriors?!” That was how E. Michael Davis, a former army sergeant, greeted his Facebook friends one afternoon last month.

One-by-one, the men and women who had been deployed with him in Iraq and Afghanistan checked in. Many were executing the most mundane of life’s tasks, but they were still alive: Working a long shift. Heading home for a beer. Exercising. Listening to music at the moment, thanks.

It was March 22. To many civilians, just another Tuesday. But to thousands of veterans and active duty soldiers, the 22nd of every month is a reminder to make a suicide prevention spot-check on former comrades. A Department of Veterans Affairs study in 2012 said an estimated 22 veterans committed suicide every day in 2010. While other studies calculated a lower tally, closer to one or two per day, the number 22 has taken on potent symbolism on social media, from roll calls to push-up challenges.

For the entire article, please click The New York Times

Photo:  Zachary Ziegel and other Marines attend a funeral in 2015 for Sgt. Austin Noble, one of the men who served with them in Afghanistan. Mr. Ziegel keeps a Buddy Check 22 Facebook page to help them keep track of each other. Credit Hayden Noble


A Welcome Reception for Medal of Honor Recipient, Florent Groberg

A Welcome Reception for Medal of Honor Recipient, Florent Groberg



Pathway Home Nears Deal with Napa Valley College

Pathway Home Nears Deal with Napa Valley College

nvcmulticolorlogosmallSince its founding nine years ago, The Pathway Home has partnered with veterans’ agencies, nonprofits and donors to treat hundreds of military men suffering from war’s aftereffects. In the coming months, the therapy program may gain the most important ally for its future: Napa Valley College.

Read the Full Story in the Napa Valley Register.


Dr. Alex Threlfall Joins The Pathway Home Board of Directors

Dr. Alex Threlfall Joins The Pathway Home Board of Directors

Alex ThrellfallAlexander Threlfall, M.D., M.A., functions as a Clinical Instructor for the University of California San Francisco Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Threlfall completed his fellowship training in geriatric psychiatry at UCSF in June of 2011 and his residency training at the University of Pennsylvania in 2010, where he served as chief resident. He was recently the Associate Chief of Community Based Outpatient Clinic Mental Health Services and Director for Mental Health at the Santa Rosa CBOC for the San Francisco VA and recently joined Santa Rosa Community Health Centers, a network of Sonoma County Federally Qualified Health Centers, as Medical Director for the Brookwood Health Center, which is funded to provide Primary Care and Mental Health services for the homeless in Sonoma County.

He attended medical school at Texas Tech School of Medicine in Lubbock, TX and has a masters in biotechnology from Columbia University – NYC. He has been a member of the AAGP since 2008 and from 2010 to 2011 sat on the board of the AAGP’s Political Action Committee as the MIT. Over the course of his AAGP membership, he has served on and/or contributed to a variety of committees and caucuses including the AAGP’s Public Policy Committee, Annual Meeting Planning Committee, Scholars Program and VA Caucus. He has also chaired and presented symposia on Telepsychiatry and Psychotherapy in Late Life depression for the last two years at the APA (2013) and AAGP (2014). Lastly, Dr. Threlfall will have completed his 3 year term as Council Member for the APA’s Council on Geriatric Psychiatry.


100 Men Who Give a Damn Select The Pathway Home

100 Men Who Give a Damn Select The Pathway Home

100 Men Who Give a Damn about Napa County is a group of local men who are interested in supporting our community by contributing to Napa County charities like The Pathway Home together as a group to increase the impact.

They come from all walks of life and varying financial backgrounds. As individuals it is difficult to make a very large impact, but as a group they believe they have the ability to contribute to the growth of our community in ways never before thought possible.

The Pathway Home couldn’t agree more. On behalf of our Board of Directors, staff and today’s veterans, we thank and salute the membership for selecting the agency as the most recent recipient of their philanthropy.

To learn more, visit 100mennapa.org.


Pathway Home reinvents itself to help Veterans Struggling in College

Pathway Home reinvents itself to help Veterans Struggling in College

Blog PW Logo

Howard Yune

February 28, 2016 (Yountville, CA) – Nearly half a year after it suspended operations, leaders of The Pathway Home in Yountville are organizing a comeback – with a new focus on helping those struggling to shift from military service to civilian college life.

The program had treated about 450 returning veterans with combat-related metal stress, but difficulty with raising money—more than $1 million per year—caused the board to stop accepting new veterans last fall and look at new ways to make the project sustainable.

Now a new team, including members of the Pathway board, state and federal veterans’ agencies, and Napa Valley College, hope to revive the therapy program by the end of 2016, organizers said. Plans call for the home to house clients in leased space at the Veterans Home of California, where Pathway operated from 2008 to 2015, and to partner with NVC in offering support services at the Napa campus, with help from staff from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.

The focus on bringing veterans’ aid to campus could become Pathway’s road to the future as it seeks to make its services sustainable for the long haul, and possibly create a model for other therapy programs – and colleges – to copy.

From its opening eight years ago, Pathway set a new course for treating veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, providing intensive inpatient treatment for up to four months at a time under the guidance of other veterans. But despite millions of dollars in donations, the program struggled to pay for itself, eventually halving its original 30-person capacity before going on hiatus in September.

In rebooting the therapy program, directors are aiming to use the expertise of other agencies while reaching out to clients trying to use college as their path to a stable civilian life.

Pathway clients would room at Pathway’s leased space at the Veterans Home’s Madison Hall, then travel by van to NVC for classes, according to Oscar de Haro, the school’s vice president of student services.

At the college, students would have access to a collection of counseling, tutoring and other services, according to Keith Armstrong, who directs the VA’s satellite clinic at City College of San Francisco. The federal agency would supply a mental health counselor to work with student clients both at the college and at Pathway in Yountville.

Enrollment in a renewed Pathway has not been set, but Armstrong suggested the program could accommodate between 10 and 20 veterans initially.

The expanded support program proposed at NVC is modeled after similar veterans’ centers the VA’s Bay Area division already runs at other two-year institutions, he said. By combining VA staffing with NVC’s existing veterans’ services, it would parallel the San Francisco City College program’s melding of psychotherapy, social work and medication management with more focused aid in finding housing, getting health care through the VA system, writing resumes, and other tasks.

Bringing the safety net close to the classroom can be the difference that lets more veterans attain a stable life while at their most vulnerable, Armstrong predicted.

“The idea is to provide a one-stop shopping model so that people can get their services while they’re at school, and decrease the stress of juggling work, school, family life and VA appointments,” he said Tuesday.

Veterans studying at NVC already are exempted from the college’s $46-per-unit fee. In addition, those being treated through Pathway likely could use housing stipends from the GI Bill to pay for their stays at the Yountville home, according to Patti Morgan, the school’s dean of financial aid.

Additional support may come from reimbursements by the VA for veterans who enter work-study programs while signing up for at least nine units of courses, said Lynette Cortes, veterans’ services specialist for the college.

Any steps to help pick up expenses are vital in reviving a program that cost about $1.2 million per year in its original form, according to Mike Horak, Pathway’s director of administration and development.

Pathway got its launch funding from a private $5.6 million grant delivered through the Tides Center, a donor fund based in San Francisco. But after working through its seed money, the home was forced to rely mostly on local fundraising in the absence of reimbursement from the VA or Tricare, the federal health system for military personnel, retirees and dependent.

“While the Napa Valley is a generous community, when you looked at the grand scheme of things, we only have a small building and the ability to bring in only so many people at one time,” Horak said. “It was a highly expensive program to operate, and we weren’t necessarily able to attract (donors) with a broad perspective.”

Since graduating its last class of clients Sept. 17, Pathway’s board has continued its fundraising and garnered about $417,000. Its lease at the Veterans Home will remain in force through the end of 2017, he said.

An 11-member volunteer committee with representatives from the VA, Veterans Home and the state Department of Veterans Affairs is advising Pathway in its transition to campus-based aid. The committee also includes Veterans Home administrator Don Veverka, Tug McGraw Foundation co-founder Jennifer Brusstar and psychology professors from UC San Francisco, among others.

Ultimately, according to Horak, Pathway leaders hope to create a system that other colleges can emulate in order to spread the benefits to returning veterans elsewhere in the Bay Area.

Armstrong, of the VA’s San Francisco division, hoped The Pathway Home’s return will point the way to greater teamwork.

“You want to help veterans use the GI Bill wisely, to graduate as quickly as they can to four-year schools or vocational training,” said Armstrong, of the VA’s San Francisco division. “If we can provide academic and mental health counseling under one umbrella, these people will have a better opportunity to succeed. That’s the mutual goal of the state, the Veterans Home, Pathway and the VA.

“Maybe it’s an example of the future of partnerships, the idea that the VA can’t do it alone and the community can’t do it alone,” he said. “It’s within these partnerships that veterans will benefit.”