JWBxPlanet Fitness: The National Center for Healthy Veterans

The John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation (JWB) and Planet Fitness Growth Partners LLC (PFGP) establish partnership with The National Center for Healthy Veterans (NCHV) to support their aspirations to help veterans become healthy and reassimilate to their communities as leaders and role models that can inspire health in others. JWB awarded NCHV Valor Farm with $100,000, while PFGP gifted new equipment for the wellness center. Recently, JWB Founders, PFGP Owners, and fitness pioneers, Victor and Lynne Brick, virtually attended the dedication ceremony and grand opening of the new Valor Farm wellness center with NCHV founder retired Major General Robert F. Dees, amongst others. US Marine Corps veteran, Steve Campbell of PFGP, accepted an appreciation plaque on behalf of the JWB Foundation. Find images from the event here.

"We are glad to support the efforts of Valor Farm in providing for the physical and mental wellbeing of our nation's veterans. As General Dees says, they are one of this country's untapped national treasures. Both of our fathers were veterans.”

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 Farm 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:

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 focuses on increasing veteran health and well-being, helping them to reassimilate to their communities as leaders who inspire others. This 339-acres of Virginia countryside is a vital turning point in veteran mental health care. The JWB grant will help Valor Farm and the NCHV carry out their initiatives, which include providing life skills programs, the notion of community, faith-based recovery, dignified work which allows for purpose, job skills training allowing professional accomplishment, and opportunities to work with a variety of therapeutic animals. This grant, General Dees believes, allows the NCHV to lean into programmatic interaction with veterans and lends itself to research regarding integrative mental health approaches.

We are proud to support the National Center for Healthy Veterans and help 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.