EO Aimed at Tackling Mental Health for New Veterans

As a VA partner working with Veterans transitioning from military service to civilian life, The Pathway Home is glad to see this step toward the removal of barriers to mental health care. 


President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order on “Supporting our Veterans during their Transition from Uniformed Service to Civilian Life” on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. OLIVIER DOULIERY/ABACA PRESS/TNS

Trump signs order to improve mental health care for new vets

By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPESPublished: January 9, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday afternoon paving the way for servicemembers to be enrolled automatically with the Department of Veterans Affairs for mental health care when they leave the military – an attempt to eliminate barriers for transitioning troops to get treatment during their first year after service.

The order, titled “Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition from Uniformed Service to Civilian Life,” directs the VA, Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security to develop a plan by March 9 on how to seamlessly provide mental health care to new veterans and implement that plan within 180 days.

Surrounded by VA and Defense Department officials, Trump said the order was “a historic step to make sure veterans are taken care of in the proper manner.” He signed the order in a quick ceremony in the Oval Office.

The action highlights the issue of veteran suicide, which VA Secretary David Shulkin has named as his top clinical priority. Every day in 2014, an average of 20 veterans succumbed to suicide, according to the latest available VA data. According to a 2016 study from the Naval Postgraduate School, transitioning veterans are particularly at risk.

“People may not realize the highest risk for veteran suicide is in the 12 months following transition out of service,” Shulkin said. “That’s why we’re taking this unprecedented step.”

Veterans who use VA services are less likely to succumb to suicide than other veterans, VA data shows.

Officials with the Trump administration, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Tuesday that many transitioning servicemembers have difficulty enrolling in VA health care because of the complex process in place. Only 40 percent of veterans enroll in VA mental health care in the first year after leaving the service, Shulkin said.

In the next 60 days, the departments will work out specifics of how to allow exiting troops to be enrolled automatically in VA mental health care, with the option to opt out, Trump administration officials said. The order did not go into specifics on how to accomplish that. 

President Donald Trump holds a signed Executive Order on “Supporting our Veterans during their Transition from Uniformed Service to Civilian Life” on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C.

Shulkin wants to ensure new veterans will not be required to have served in combat in order to be eligible for one year of mental health care and they won’t have to prove their military service caused mental health problems, he said Tuesday during a teleconference with reporters.

A Trump administration official said approximately 265,000 troops leave the military every year and the changes would come at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to the VA and Defense Department each year. The funds will be diverted from within the departments’ regular budgets, but specifics on where exactly the money would come from was not made available Tuesday.

New veterans will be permitted to use the Veterans Choice program, which allows them to seek care in the private sector. Concerned Veterans of America, a conservative advocacy group that criticized VA health care and pushed for more private-sector treatment for veterans, said the government should look to the private sector for help implementing the changes.

Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said in a statement that he was concerned the order would be used as a tool to push more care to private providers.

The American Psychological Association said they supported the changes, as long as priority is placed on veterans receiving mental health care within the VA system.

The new policy does not apply to veterans with other-than-honorable discharges – a population cut off from some VA services and seen as particularly at-risk for mental health issues.

More than 13,000 servicemembers separated from the military for misconduct in recent years suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or another disorder and were prevented from receiving treatment from the VA because of their discharge status, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office.

Last March, Shulkin, who is a physician, announced the VA would offer those veterans 90 days of mental health care in emergency situations. Since that change was put into effect in July, 3,200 veterans with other-than-honorable discharges have utilized that care.

Administration officials said Tuesday that the VA needs more authority from Congress to provide veterans with other-than-honorable discharges more than the 90 days of emergency mental health care.

“It’s our hope that if Dr. Shulkin feels he’s done all that he can for veterans with bad-paper, that the president will stand with veteran service organizations and instruct Congress to expand the statutory authority of the secretary to ensure that our country leaves no veteran behind,” said Kristofer Goldsmith, a longtime advocate of veterans with other-than-honorable discharges.

Reed Cordish, an assistant to Trump, said the changes announced Tuesday showed the president’s commitment to modernizing the VA. During his campaign, Trump criticized the agency as the “most corrupt” in Washington. Before the signing Tuesday, Trump said he was “at the forefront of the greatest strides ever made at the VA.”

Major veterans organizations were unaware of the executive order before it was announced on Trump’s schedule Monday night. Walz said lawmakers who deal with veterans’ issues were also not consulted.

“I am seriously concerned by the White House’s failure to provide any specific details to Congress or engage with veterans organizations in the community until the day of the executive order,” Walz said in a written statement. “The lack of detail raises significant concerns with regard to targeted funding, outreach, and the education of servicemembers and veterans about the new policies. The lack of transparency also raises skepticism of the White House’s claim that this executive order will not require additional funding.”

Republican leaders on the House veterans committee commended the order. Its chairman, Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said it would explore new avenues to critical care.

The American Legion applauded the changes announced Tuesday as part of an important safety net available to transitioning servicemembers.

Twitter: @nikkiwentling





SF Chronicle features The Pathway Home

The SF Chronicle visited The Pathway Home to learn more about our program for post-9/11 Veterans like Adam Schumann, whose story was depicted in David Finkel’s book, Thank You for Your Service, turned feature film directed by Jason Hall and starring Miles Teller in the role of Adam. 

We thank the Chronicle’s reporter Sam Whiting, whose article appears below, for sharing our story. 







Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle
Jack stands for a portrait outside The Pathway Home in the Veterans Home of California on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, in Yountville, Calif. Jack, a Marine, came home from the war with PTSD. He was greatly helped at The Pathway Home after spending about 18 months there.

November 22, 2017 Updated: November 24, 2017 6:09pm

The Pathway Home, an independent residential treatment facility for post-9/11 veterans with combat stress, sits amid thousands of acres of trees and lawn in Yountville. But all one Marine named Jack needed of the outdoors was the exit staircase across the hall from his room.

He’d come out of an intense group class, grab his Camel Blues, and by the time he got out on the landing, it was already packed as tight as a Humvee, with 10 or 15 others with post-traumatic stress disorder huddled together and drawing deeply on the nicotine to calm their nerves.

“Devil Dog, How you doing?” they’d greet Jack, using the nickname for his rifle company. “I’m doing,” he’d say.

This scene is real. But its cinematic equivalent is now out there in the film “Thank You for Your Service.” The DreamWorks film stars Miles Teller as Sgt. Adam Schumann in the true story of troops coming home from Iraq and struggling to adjust to civilian and family life in Fort Riley, Kan.

“Thank You for Your Service,” based on a book of the same name, tells the story of Schumann, a platoon leader with a gift for sniffing out roadside bombs, who is physically uninjured in three tours of duty. But the injuries to his mind are so severe that he comes in from a patrol, walks through a door marked “Combat Stress,” and in short order, he is standing alone on a tarmac waiting for his own medevac helicopter. His war is over, but he cannot get over the guilt of leaving his men behind, and he cannot handle the shame of being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Department of Veterans Affairs medical bureaucracy only makes things worse until finally, as a last gasp, he is accepted to the Pathway Home, an independent and under-the-radar nonprofit that serves veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. At the Sacramento airport, he is met by Fred Gusman, a social worker who left the VA to start his own live-in clinic, supported by donations and grants, with a minimum stay of four months. It occupies a redundant hospital building at the Veterans Home of California-Yountville, 9,000 Wine Country acres in the Napa Valley.

The facility came under duress during the fires in early October. At one point all 850 residents of the Veterans Home, including the Pathway, were ordered to evacuate. Residents and staff of the Pathway were sent to Napa Valley College, where they waited for three hours in the gymnasium. While on alert for a week, the campus came under no further threat.

“It just feels like I’m in another country,” Schumann says, as the car meanders around to the two-story Spanish building. “I’m so damn nervous.”

This dialogue, and the film itself, comes out of a two-volume history by David Finkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the Washington Post who embedded with an Army Infantry Battalion created for the troop surge of 2007 and 2008 in Iraq. The first book, “The Good Soldiers,” published in 2009, follows the troops as they try to stabilize a city at the same time insurgents try to blow up the Humvees that are sent out to help the population.

Two years later, Finkel embedded again, this time at the battalion’s home base in Fort Riley. He narrows his focus to Schumann and follows him out to the Pathway Home, which is depicted in heroic fashion in the follow-up, “Thank You for Your Service,” published in 2013.

During the surge in Iraq, the most common injury was on the inside — traumatic brain injury, or TBI, suffered while riding in an armored Humvee that hits a roadside bomb. Its effects are not immediate but show up over time when victims seem to forget what they are going to say or do and are prone to snapping over the tiniest infraction.

The guilt and stigma over a PTSD diagnosis is so strong that veterans often wish they’d lost a leg or an arm in the war, or show visible scars of a head wound, just so it would not look like they are faking it.

Jack, the combat vet has not read the book but his story parallels that of Schumann. The technical differences are that Jack is a Marine and Schumann was Army. Jack was in Afghanistan, and Schumann in Iraq. Schumann served seven years and Jack six. Both were in the infantry facing the same insurgent dangers. Both came home seemingly intact but badly damaged. Both took a few years of struggle and bouncing between jobs at home before hitting the wall in their late 20s. Both arrived at the Pathway Home as chain smokers, but every combat vet has that habit. Both left the program once before returning to finish the job.

The major difference is that Schumann is literally an open book while Jack is extremely guarded. Once a Marine, always a Marine, and there is still shame in a wound that cannot be seen. As such, he will not reveal his last name and will not allow his face to be photographed.

He will not discuss what happened to him as a rifleman in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2009 and 2010 or what happened to him after the war to land him in Pathway. But it is not too hard to figure out. According to statistics quoted in the book, among those admitted to the Pathway Home, 80 percent have tried school and quit, 70 percent have been fired from a job, and 60 percent have attempted suicide.

“I came home from the war and realized that I couldn’t calm down,” is what Jack says about his condition. It must have been serious because his father, a Vietnam veteran drove him up from his home in Southern California.

“I didn’t want anyone to know I was coming here,” he says. “What will my friends think of me. Am I weak? That’s a difficult barrier to get over.”

By the time veterans in Jack’s and Schumann’s era reached the Pathway Home they had been through the VA treatment programs and/or those offered through private insurance. The first line of defense was heavy medication and, if that did not work, a VA residential treatment program ranging from four weeks to seven weeks.

Fred Gusman, the Pathway founder, did not want to deal with either the VA or insurance so he was perfect for this program which was funded by a private grant of $5.6 million 10 years ago. Financial independence allowed him to do it his way, which was the long way. VA treatments assumed that the veteran had no psychological issues right up to the moment PTSD hit, but Gusman knew this was too simplistic. There were childhood issues at play here, and his treatment programs emphasized these in long emotional classroom sessions called Trauma Group.

In Jack’s case the day went this way — chow, class, smoke break, class, smoke break and so on. He came for four months and stayed six. Then after a failed re-entry back home, he returned for another year.

“The camaraderie built here was so strong, and it wasn’t built in class, it was built in the smoke pit,” he says while using the nickname for the fire escape and table at the foot of the stairs.

Jack and his cohorts never mixed with the older men at the Veterans Home, most of whom served in World War II, Korea or Vietnam. The Iraq and Afghanistan vets stuck together and only under cover of darkness would they walk out of the building and up the hill to a cemetery that dates to the Civil War.

“Guys would talk about the guys they’d lost,” Jack says.

When Jack arrived he’d emphasized the word Pathway in the name, as in a route to somewhere else. By the time he left, he accented the word Home, as if this Spanish-style building were it.

The Pathway Home used to hold a graduation ceremony, and family came from across the country. A few hundred veterans over the years walked to the podium to be handed a long-stemmed yellow rose and given a few moments to make a speech. When it was Schumann’s turn, he first turned to Gusman and said, “I want to thank you for saving my life.” Then he turned to his wife, Saskia (portrayed by Haley Bennett in the film) and said, “I’m going to be home. Finally home.”

Then Gusman retired. After treating 450 veterans from all over for PTSD and mild traumatic brain injury, or MTBI, the Pathway Home narrowed its mission.

In 2016, the Board of Directors refocused to serve post-9/11 veterans from California, as they transition to higher education to pursue studies at Napa Valley College, Santa Rosa Junior College and elsewhere.

Christine Loeber, 47, a social worker with her master’s from Boston College, was hired away from the VA clinics in San Francisco and Menlo Park, the place Ken Kesey made famous in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

“When these people are in combat, their systems are programmed to keep them alive under incredibly stressful situations,” she says. “Nobody helps them understand that when they get back they have to reprogram their nervous system to operate at a different caliber so they can be successful civilians.”

The Pathway Home is funded by donors with an annual budget of $1 million, and VA medical records are not required for admission. A monthly fee of $700 per patient is requested, as a sign of commitment. But the fee is not a barrier to entry.

The Pathway Home has always been just for men, but Loeber plans to open it to women. A housing wing on a different floor from the men has already been secured.

When that happens the resident population is expected to ramp up to 34. For now it is staffed for 14, and there are not enough smokers to form up on the fire escape. Jack himself has quit his pack-a-day habit altogether. Now 30, he is married, lives in downtown Napa and has a job as a wine consultant. But he is available on short notice. The Pathway Home is home.

Room 4137 to be exact. On this day his old door is closed, and there is a veteran behind it dealing with issues. If Jack can be of help, all that veteran has to do is open the door.

Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: swhiting@sfchronicle.com Instagram: @sfchronicle_art

Movie: “Thank You for Your Service” is expected to be released on DVD, BluRay and digital in January.

Books: “Thank You for Your Service’’ (2013, Macmillan) and “The Gold Soldiers” (2009, Macmillan) by David Finkel are in paperback in bookstores and libraries.

To tour the Pathway Home with Christine Loeber: http://bit.ly/pathwayhome

Link to full article on Chronicle website here.


Pathway Home Graduate Subject of Film “Thank You for Your Service”

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage
Mandatory Credit: Photo by F Duhamel/Dreamworks/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (9171772l)
Adam Schumann
“Thank You For Your Service” Film – 2017

Read below for the Napa Valley Register’s November 2, 2017 piece about Pathway Home graduate and subject of the film “Thank You for Your Service” Adam Schumann.

Graduate of Napa Valley’s Pathway Home featured in film about military PTSD

By: Maria Sestito – Nov 2, 2017 Updated Nov 3, 2017

Adam Schumann didn’t join the U.S. Army because he wanted to be thanked. It was something he’d always wanted to do, it was in his family and, when 9/11 happened, he knew it was time.

He was only 20 years old then. Over the next few years, he would serve three tours in Iraq. After the first tour, he was still optimistic, he said, despite his trouble sleeping.

“I still felt pretty good,” he said. He was good at his job – he was going to make a career out of it. But by that third tour, Schumann, by then a staff sergeant, said that he felt worn down. There was no obvious enemy to fight yet more and more guys, his “brothers,” were dying.


Soldiers woke up each morning just to spend the day driving through a mine field, hoping not to be blown up, he said. “(You’re) basically just waiting to die … you don’t really feel like you’re in control.”

Schumann was like a “lucky horseshoe” to his brothers, though, so when he was flown home early on MedEvac, it was worse than just staying and fighting, he said. He had been thinking a lot about everything he was missing at home, but if, when he went home, something happened to one of the other soldiers, he would have felt responsible.

“I would say those years after I got back were worse than when I was in combat,” he said Thursday.

When Schumann returned home to his wife and two children, things were different. He was different.

“It was like every day, something was different,” and nothing felt right, he said. In addition to dealing with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and transitioning back into civilian life, he still had to deal with normal, everyday stuff.

This period of Schumann’s life – when he returns home after that third tour – is portrayed in the new movie “Thank You for Your Service,” released in theaters last week. Although some things in the film have been fictionalized, Schumann calls the portrayal “accurate.”

In the movie, audiences see Schumann, played by actor Miles Teller, a war “hero” coming home to his family a broken man. He doesn’t talk to his wife, he imagines a gunman in the woods while out hunting, and he accidentally drops his infant son. He tries to stay strong for his family and for the other soldiers who have also come home – one struggling with his mental health while another is physically disabled – but struggles to get himself help.

Then, one day, he, just like the real life Adam Schumann, reaches out to The Pathway Home, the nonprofit program based in Yountville that helps veterans trying to recover from the psychological impacts of war. The movie doesn’t show exactly what The Pathway Home does for Schumann, but its importance is felt by the audience even if they don’t understand why.

Real-life Schumann didn’t make it into The Pathway Home until nearly four years after he returned home to Kansas. Although he sought other treatment, during that time he lost the life he had known.

It was “really shitty,” he said. “It f***ing sucked.”

“The first time I watched [the movie], it was very gut wrenching,” Schumann said. “But if it wasn’t hard to watch, they wouldn’t have done a very good job.”

For 35-year-old Army veteran Justin Moore, “Thank You for Your Service” was a lot to take in.

Moore, a Pathway Home graduate, watched the movie during a special screening at the Century Napa Valley last week along with others who are affiliated with or contribute to the local program based on the grounds of the Veterans Home of California in Yountville.

“As a combat veteran, I could definitely relate,” Moore said, noting that he was glad the movie was focused more on the effects of war on soldiers and less on combat. At times, he said, it was difficult to watch. He could feel himself tense up, his heart rate increase.

There were “a lot of white-knuckle moments for me,” he said.

Moore, who now lives in Modesto, served in the Army between 2000 and 2006. He didn’t get into The Pathway Home until 2010, almost a year before Schumann.

“It was … a transformative experience,” he said. But it wasn’t until he had hit rock bottom, handcuffed in the backseat of a police car, when he realized he needed the help.


“It took years to finally admit to myself there was something I needed to work on,” Moore said. He was spiraling out of control, he said. If he didn’t get help, he would end up dead or in jail.

“Everybody’s story is different but (there are) a lot of similarities,” he said.

Now a bearded full-time student and stay-at-home dad, Moore is still in recovery. But thanks to his encouraging wife and with the support of programs like Pathway, he said he can watch a movie like this without everything being a trigger.

The Pathway Home opened in 2008 as a live-in program aimed at helping combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, then had to deal with psychological wounds upon their return to civilian life. The program temporarily shut down in 2015 after treating nearly 450 veterans.

The nonprofit now serves veterans who are transitioning back into civilian life by taking classes at Napa Valley College. The program provides the veterans with housing, transportation to and from classes as well as counseling and other services.

“It gives them the tools that they can begin to get their lives together,” Kent Gardella, Vietnam veteran and Napa businessman.

“When you go through the things that these guys have gone through, life is not going to be normal without some type of treatment — you can’t just come back and suck it up,” Gardella said. “If we send young men to war, we ought to take care of them when they get back.”

Now divorced and with no promising career prospects, Schumann says he still isn’t “100 percent,” but his children keep him going.

“Everything is good and happy now,” he said, speaking of his kids.

Schumann said that he spends a lot of time fishing, hunting and looking for work.

He still misses the military every day, he said. “I’d still be in if I could.”

His plan was to attend Warrant Officer Candidate School and become a helicopter pilot. Now, he’d settle for a job.

Where he lives now doesn’t help with career prospects, he said, and neither does PTSD.

There are days where he is an “absolute mess” and can’t go to work, he said. And that’s something that most employers don’t want to deal with. On top of that, he said, “It’s embarrassing.”

The last month has been a whirlwind for Schumann as he embarked on weeks of press tours with Teller in order to promote the film. Now he’s getting back to his normal life, which on Thursday meant picking his children, ages 8 and 14, up from school.

They haven’t seen the movie, and, if it’s up to Schumann, they won’t.

Although the movie did comparatively poorly at the box office its first weekend, taking in roughly $3 million, it garnered positive reviews and inspired Napa vintner Warren Winiarski to pledge $100,000 in matching funds to support The Pathway Home. That’s on top of more than $350,000 he has donated to the nonprofit since 2010.

Schumann said that the movie based on a book of the same name to him acts as a benchmark.

“I can look back and see a measurement of success and how far I’ve come from that point 10 years ago,” he said.

For audiences watching the movie, Schumann says it will give people a “window” into what a lot of veterans go through. He hopes it will start a discussion about mental health and make people think more about the price of war.


Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-5) – Statement on The Pathway Home 10/25/2017

Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-5) was unable to join us at our special event screening of Thank You for Your Service. He prepared the following statement about The Pathway Home, which was shared at our event on 10/25/2017.


Harnessing the Power of Partnerships for Student Veterans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                             

Contact: Liz Russell

Harnessing the Power of Partnerships for Student Veterans
The Pathway Home, San Francisco VA Health Care System Team Up

Yountville, CA, May 15, 2017 – The Pathway Home, Inc. (TPH) is excited to announce the finalization of its formal partnership with the San Francisco Veterans Affairs (SFVA) Health Care System’s Student Veteran Health Program. This strategic alliance creates a continuum of care for student Veterans served at TPH by having VA psychologist Jennifer Gonzales divide her time as a treatment team member onsite at TPH and on campus at Napa Valley College. 

Having a VA psychologist on site is key to meeting the needs of student Veterans struggling to manage symptoms of depression, anxiety, or PTSD so that they can more successfully navigate academic life. This partnership also helps Veterans connect with VA health care and specialty services as appropriate.

“This public-private partnership allows TPH to benefit from the breadth and depth of knowledge held by the VA while remaining nimble and responsive to Veteran needs as an independent nonprofit,” said Christine Loeber MSW, LCSW, Executive Director of The Pathway Home.

The Pathway Home is well-versed in public-private partnerships, having a long-standing collaboration with the California Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Home of California, Yountville. Through its partnership with the Veterans Home of California, Yountville, TPH utilizes a campus building for its program, serving the latest generation of Veterans. The Pathway Home also partners with local community organizations such as Bay Area Rotary Clubs and local businesses eager to support Veterans. According to TPH’s Board of Directors Chair Dorothy Salmon, public-private partnerships are the way of the future.

“The community can’t do it alone and the VA can’t do it alone, we need each other” Salmon said.

About The Pathway Home: The Pathway Home is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing educational, professional, and clinical support in a residential setting to post-9/11 Veterans pursuing academic or vocational endeavors who are transitioning back into the civilian world following military deployment. The Pathway Home remains self-supporting through private donations and foundation grants.

Download the press release here: TPH-VA Partnership Press Release May 2017


The Pathway Home’s Refocused Mission & New Leadership

In case you missed it, The Pathway Home was featured in the April 2017 edition of North Bay Biz: “A New Path To Help Veterans”. Below is a press release about our refocused and re-energized mission, ably led by Executive Director Christine Loeber, MSW, LCSW.



Contact: Liz Russell

The Pathway Home’s Refocused Mission and New Leadership
Now Accepting Student Veteran Applications

Yountville, CA, May 5, 2017 –The Pathway Home, Inc. (TPH) is proud to announce it is welcoming post-9/11 student Veterans into its structured living environment, providing a place that understands post-deployment challenges and offers wrap-around mental health and case management services to its residents.

Driving this refocused mission on student Veterans is The Pathway Home’s new Executive Director, Christine Loeber, MSW, LCSW, who possesses more than 25 years of corporate, non-profit, and clinical experience. Most recently, she served as a clinician at the Santa Rosa VA Outpatient Mental Health Clinic and as acting-Assistant Chief of Community Based Outpatient Mental Health for the San Francisco VA Health Care System.

“We learned Veterans were having a harder time than their just-out-of-high school peers finishing their education or vocational programs,” Loeber said. “We’re intervening earlier to help prevent common transition challenges from developing into chronic, disabling conditions.”

The immediate responsibility of finding a job or pursuing a degree, coupled with managing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other post-deployment challenges, can be a difficult transition to navigate alone.

“When you get out, there’s a lot of loneliness,” said Cassidy Nolan, President of the Veteran Student Organization at Napa Valley College. “You don’t have your battle buddies anymore. You don’t have your barracks mate. The Pathway Home fills that void, in a very positive way.”

Program applications, currently being accepted on a rolling basis, can be obtained by visiting our website at: http://thepathwayhome.org/  

About The Pathway Home: The Pathway Home is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing educational, professional, and clinical support in a residential setting to post-9/11 Veterans pursuing academic or vocational endeavors who are transitioning back into the civilian world following military deployment. Since its founding in 2008, TPH has provided residential treatment to more than 450 veterans in crisis. The Pathway Home remains self-supporting through private donations and foundation grants.


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.