Introducing the National Center for Healthy Veterans

The John W. Brick Foundation has just awarded a grant of $100,000 to the National Center for Healthy Veterans (NCHV). JWB’s Executive Director, Dr. Cassandra Vieten, sat down with the founder of NCHV, Major General (retired) Robert F. Dees, to discuss the mission of the organization, their Valor Farms residential program initiative, and the importance of mental healthcare for veterans. Former platoon leader of the 101st Airborne Division, General Dees experienced firsthand the mental health epidemic in the military. Listen as he shares insight on how important mental health has been and continues to be in military and veteran communities below.

General Dees describes the moment when he realized the critical importance and prevalence of mental health: when he discovered that one of his sergeants died by suicide in his home, the night before Easter. When he asked how he could help, the newly-widowed wife asked if he would come over the next morning for an Easter egg hunt with her daughter in an attempt to give her some semblance of normalcy. This heartbreaking event inspired him to create The National Center for Healthy Veterans. 

The NCHV aspires to help veterans become healthy and reassimilate to their communities as leaders and role models that can inspire others to become healthy too. The NCHV focuses on implementing holistic approaches to achieving mental wellness, and treating mental illness. Through conducting evidence-based research on their 339-acre farm in Altavista, Virginia, the JWB grant will help Valor Farms and the NCHV provide veterans with natural healing environments, equine therapy, faith-based recovery, life skills and professional development programs, and opportunities to work with a variety of therapeutic animals. This, General Dees believes, gives veterans a sense of purpose through dignified work which ultimately helps them rebuild and achieve mental wellness. 

We are proud to support the National Center for Healthy Veterans achieve their mission. As General Dees states, “Most of all, I know we all are pledged to helping lives be better, particularly achieving mental wellness for American veterans which they and their families so richly deserve.” We couldn’t agree more.