Drug, Mental Treatment Facility for Veterans By Veterans Opens near Deland

Drug, mental treatment facility for veterans, by veterans opens near DeLand


By Katie Kustura, The Daytona Beach News-Journal

Down a crumbly road lined with tall pine trees off U.S. 17-92 is a place that is the first of its kind — a recovery program for, and run by, military veterans.

Heroes’ Mile, which began accepting patients this month in a facility just outside DeLand, is looking to save the lives of those who have seen the worst by providing several types of therapies and services in an environment run by people who have shared in the experience of war.

One of the first patients, who asked to remain anonymous, was still detoxing last week, having arrived at the facility after flying into Florida just eight hours earlier from New Jersey. The man said he’s been in and out of Alcoholics Anonymous for years. He’s also tried other treatment centers, but found it hard to relate to people who can’t understand what he’s been through as a military veteran.

The 43-year-old, who wasn’t ready to go into detail about his deployments or former military responsibilities in information technology, got choked up as he recalled the conversation he had with Heroes’ Mile staff.

“The message they gave me was just unbelievable,” the Marine Corps veteran said. “I talk to these guys, and I don’t feel like I gotta hold anything back.”

Veterans finding the strength to discuss their issues and what they’ve been through is just one of the goals at the facility, said John Picciano, the CEO of Oglethorpe Inc. Picciano is one of the founders of Heroes’ Mile, which is owned and managed by Oglethorpe, a national hospital management company based in Tampa.

“He’s a hero,” Picciano said of the Marine Corps veteran. “So we want to be able to not only recognize him as a hero, but give him a chance at life again.”

While Picciano isn’t a veteran himself — he was drafted but his service was deferred when he went to seminary — he’s spent decades working with people, including many veterans, who have substance abuse and mental health issues.

He founded Heroes’ Mile with retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William Lennox Jr., a former West Point superintendent and Oglethorpe’s veteran ambassador.

“We are creating a safe environment for them, because everybody’s a vet; they got your back,” Picciano said. “If you go into a regular rehab, nobody has your back.”

Creating such an environment was about more than hiring veterans to help veterans. Despite the intensity of what would be taking place, the facility needed to be warm and inviting and feel like a home, not cold and institutional like military barracks.

“We’re not preparing them to go to war, we’re preparing them to go to life,” Picciano said.

“Opening up is the beginning of solving the problem,” Lennox said in a phone interview.

The services available at Heroes’ Mile include: detoxification and medical supervision, individual and daily group counseling, post-traumatic stress and military-sexual trauma counseling, art therapy, comfort pet therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, spiritual healing, job preparation and training, residential and intensive outpatient programs and more.

Picciano hopes to incorporate more holistic treatments in the future since Gov. Ron DeSantis recently approved a bill from Sen. Tom Wright (R-New Smyrna Beach) that will allow for a study of alternative treatment options for veterans who have PTSD or a traumatic brain injury.

“When all is said and done, the success of these alternatives will reunite veterans with their families and expand their opportunities,” Wright said in a news release. “We cannot thank our veterans and their families enough for their sacrifice and selfless service to our nation and we must continue to support them to ensure they have the best quality of life.”

Heroes’ Mile also has common areas indoors and outdoors where veterans can gather and watch TV or chat.

“This is normal, you sit here, you relax, you have a cup of coffee and you talk,” Picciano said, pointing to one of the outdoor tables and chairs shaded by an umbrella. “You don’t have to be under a bridge using drugs.”

There’s also an outdoor area with exercise equipment and a small garden area with a rock fountain and a bench for veterans who need to take a quiet moment or meditate. Picciano said the property will eventually have a rope course or some other type of athletic activity on the unused acreage.

Oglethorpe is currently covering the cost of treatment for veterans who get a referral from their Veterans Affairs office, said Navy veteran Ryan Barrows, the lead admissions and training specialist and outreach minister. Once the facility has at least a few more patients, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations will look at renewing the contract for the property, which previously housed the Darryl Strawberry Recovery Center. When the contract is approved, veterans will be able to get into Heroes’ Mile with health insurance coverage.

The plan for the future is to open up additional Heroes’ Mile locations, which could be stand-alone facilities or dedicated wings or floors in other buildings, and eventually present the concept to congress in the hopes of getting the VA to incorporate Heroes’ Mile and work on grants for more facilities, Lennox said.

“If it works here, and we really think it will, anybody can do it,” Lennox said.

He said there are no plans to patent the concept as they want to see other companies duplicate the program and help as many veterans as possible.







By Benny Johnson


President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis were on hand to start off the annual Army vs. Navy game.

Army and Navy met again Saturday afternoon in the neutral site of Philadelphia to play a football game between the two oldest branches of the armed forces. This year marks the 119th time the two teams have met. A U.S. president is occasionally on hand for the national anthem and coin toss.

President Trump took the field Saturday in Philadelphia before an enormous crowd in Lincoln Financial Field. The audience was composed of Midshipmen of the Navy, West Point cadets and other assembled active duty and military veterans.

The game also featured a prayer and tribute to the late Navy veteran, former President George H.W. Bush. (RELATED: Here’s A Look Back At George H.W. Bush’s Life In Pictures)

The crowd roared as Trump took the field. Before the game, the student choirs of both military academies  join together to sing the national anthem. You could hear a pin drop during the rendition.


Veterans Day Message – 2018


Veterans Day Message – 2018


MG Paul E. Vallely. US Army (Ret.)

Chairman, Stand Up America US Foundation

On the 11th hour ofct. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson  the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect and proclaimed the day should be“filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.” At 11am, there was a brief suspension of business activities so that parades and public meetings could place.

Today, our Nation comes together to honor our veterans and commemorate the legacy of profound service and sacrifice they have upheld in pursuit of a more perfect Union. Through their steadfast defense of America’s ideals, our service members have ensured our country stands strong and that these ideals and virtues still shine throughout America. 

Nations around the world seek freedomWknow the blessings of freedom. As we offer our sincere appreciation and respect to our veterans, to their families, to those who are still in harm’s way, and to those we have laid to rest, let us dedicate ourselves to keep America strong.

Our men and women in uniform are bearers of a proud military tradition that has been dutifully passed forward—from generation to generation—for more than two centuries. In times of war and peace, our veterans have served with courage and distinction in the face of tremendous adversity, demonstrating an unfaltering commitment to America and our people. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the country they loved including our son, Scott VallelyThe selflessness of our service members is unmatched, and they remind us that there are few things more fundamentally American than doing our utmost to make a difference in the lives of others and secure our great country.

Just as our veterans stood watch and stand watch today on freedom’s frontier and along our borders, so have they safeguarded the prosperity of Americans in our neighborhoods, our businesses, and our homes. It is our moral obligation to ensure that they receive our support, despite the current gutting of our Armed Forces, for as long as they live as proud veterans of the United States Armed Forces. On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to the veterans, to the fallen, and to their families. To honor their contributions to America, let us strive with renewed determination to keep the promises we have made to all who have answered our country’s call. As we fulfill our obligations to them, we keep faith with the patriots who have risked their lives to preserve the Union, and with the ideals of service and sacrifice upon which our Republic was founded.

We CALL upon every member of federal, state and local government, legislative, judicial, law enforcement and military, who have taken an oath to protect and defend the ConstitutionalRepublic from all enemies, foreign and domestic, to act upon those oaths for the stated purpose of restoring the Constitutional Republic.

We CALL upon ALL veterans and veteran organizations in America, who still believe in their oath to protect and defend, to unite with us at once – in this Declaration to maintain the Constitutional Republic.

We CALL for ALL citizens who still desire freedom and liberty, to stand with us and carry our demands to right the wrongs against our nation in the preservation of freedom, liberty, justice and the rule of law.



Veterans Day to be celebrated at MSU Billings


Veterans Day to be celebrated at MSU Billings

Celebrating 100 years of Armistice Day



University Relations and Communications, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS— Sunday, Nov. 11 will mark 100 years since Armistice Day, and Montana State University Billings ispleased to announce this year’s commemoration activities, held in conjunction with the Friends of Yellowstone National Cemetery Board.


Music by Lockwood Band and acapella group Treasure State Sound will begin at 9:30 a.m. to greet guests as they find their seats in Petro Theater for the Veteran’s Day Celebration.


Master of Ceremonies Ed McIntosh of KTVQ will open the ceremony at 10 a.m. followed by a welcome from MSU Billings Chancellor Dan Edelman. A presentation of the colors, National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, and opening prayer will follow.


After the recognition of special guests including Yellowstone County Commissioner Denis Pitman and Billings Mayor Bill Cole, the keynote speakers will take the stage. Major General Joe Raffiani (Ret.) and Chief Executive Officer; 13th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens (Ret.) will speak about their experiences and highlight the importance of 100 years since Armistice Day.


During the ceremony, MSU Billings will also commemorate its designation as a Purple Heart University.


Following the ceremony, there will be a Ringing of the Bell by a WWII veteran at 11 a.m. outside Petro Hall. Volley, Taps and Echo will be performed by VFW post 6774, a retired Air Force Colonel, and a MSUB student. Special government and military guests will be on hand to make remarks and greet guests.


The ceremony will then move over to the College of Education for the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for MSU Billings new Military and Veterans Success Center.


Guests are encouraged to join MSUB for a lunch reception starting at 12 p.m. in the Glacier Room in the Student Union Building.


This event is sponsored by Friends of the Yellowstone National Cemetery Board, MSU Billings Foundation, MasterLube, and Montana State University Billings.


For more information, contact Bill Kennedy, president and CEO of MSU Billings Foundation, 657-1622 or bill.kennedy@msubillings.edu.


Third Annual Veterans Day Music Festival Celebration On Battleship IOWA Museum

Third Annual Veterans Day Music Festival Celebration On Battleship IOWA Museum

Battleship IOWA Museum has become the Southern California destination to celebrate our people in uniform. On Veterans Day, Sunday, November 11, 2018, the “Battleship of Presidents,” coinciding with the one-hundred-year anniversary of the end of World War I, will honor vets with the Third Annual Veterans Day Music Festival.

The Third Annual Veterans Day Music Festival Celebration on Battleship IOWA Museum in Partnership with Black Knight Patrol and Bob Hope USO, offers free admission to Active, Retired and Reserve Military. The  family-friendly day will include a variety of fun experiences for everyone to enjoy, including but not limited to:

  • Live bands and DJ
  • Free food sponsored by Black Knight Patrol
  • Sailor’s Bar sponsored by West Coast Beverage
  • Vintage vehicles
  • 5″ gun salute at 11-11 to mark the 100thanniversary of the end of World War I (Active battle ended at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918). Sponsored by American Legion.

“We are a museum and a destination because of the heroic acts of those who volunteer to protect our freedoms and liberties,” says Battleship IOWA Museum’s President and CEO, Jonathan Williams. “Everything we do to preserve the history and missions of this vessel honors the veterans who continue to serve our country. It is our honor to support and celebrate them.”

Battleship IOWA Museum’s 2018 capital campaign is currently in progress to raise funds for the museum’s current operations and future growth as a National Museum. Everyone who donates

$500 or more to the campaign will be invited to attend an exclusive Admiral’s Reception on Veterans Day (November 11th) in the historic Wardroom aboard the Battleship IOWA. The reception to be hosted by Pacific Battleship Center’s Chairman of the Board, Rear Admiral Mike Shatynski, USN (ret.). To donate, please visit the website at www.pacificbattleship.com/donate or email development@labattleship.com.

Admission to the museum and exhibits are free for all active, retired and reserve military with valid ID.  The Battleship IOWA Museum ticket office opens daily at 10:00 a.m. and the last tour ticket sold at 4:00 p.m. Tickets purchased at the box office are $19.95 for ages 12 – 61. Youth tickets (age 2 – 11) are $11.95. Senior admission (62 and over) are $9.95. Children under 2 are free.

Please visit Battleship IOWA’s new mobile-friendly website. We encourage social media followers to use our Facebookand Instagram outlets to learn more about museum curatorial updates and events. The phone number is 877-4-IOWA-61 (877-446-9261) or 310-971-4462.

About Battleship IOWA Museum:

Named as one of TripAdvisor’s “Top 5 Museums” out of 133 in Los Angeles, Battleship IOWA now serves as a historic naval ship institution. Forged in war, guardian of peace, the proud ship keeps watch as the proud sentinel of the LA Waterfront. IOWA’s teak decks and steel bulkheads echo the words and deeds of history: three U.S. Presidents, six of the nine American five-star military leaders, countless foreign dignitaries, and most importantly, thousands of her own heroic sailors.  Visitors are awed by IOWA’s proud legacy as one of the fastest and most powerful ships ever to sail the world’s oceans.  Battleship IOWA is open to the public daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hours are 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. with the last ticket sale at 4:00 p.m. Battleship IOWA anchors at 250 South Harbor Blvd., San Pedro, CA, 90731, at The Los Angeles Waterfront. Please visit our website for additional information about special events, group tours, educational programs, and Naval retirement flag service.