Healthy Veteran Highlights • April 2024


Dear Friends of the National Center for Healthy Veterans at Valor Farm, 

This last week we enjoyed a pretty amazing Volunteer Saturday at Valor Farm – over 80 volunteers from a variety of organizations – carving trails in the woods, cleaning up our pond, lots of landscaping, tender loving care and cleaning for Village 1, assembling equipment for the new pole barn, and of course the proverbial mucking of horse stalls. Overall, a special day in a special place with some very special people. We are grateful for this Army of committed volunteers who are helping us “Return Healthy Veterans to America.”  

This Volunteer Day epitomized our theme for the month: RESTORATION. In dictionary terms, it means “To bring back to its former state; to bring back from a state of ruin, decay, disease, or the like; to repair; to renew; to recover.” 

All around us at the National Center for Healthy Veterans we see signs of RESTORATION

  • Leaves returning to our hardwoods, flowers in bloom, brown fields turning green. 

  • Brains being rewired, Hearts being reshaped, Souls being RESTORED. 

  • Veterans regaining their VITAL OPTIMISM, Families growing in HOPE. 

  • On the heels of Easter, we continue to reflect on the sacrifice and victory of Jesus on the Cross.  

YES, Spring is such an analogy of RESILIENCE, of RESURRECTION, of RESTORATION. We are blessed to see God show off with a beautiful Spring, and doubly blessed to see Him do a similar life-changing, restorative work in each of our Patriots and our hard-working staff. 

I know you will be inspired by reading more in: 

  • Meet the Team: Tom Illingworth, an amazing volunteer

  • Diving Deeper: Valor Farm is buzzing with springtime activity! Our partnerships and dedicated volunteers are fueling exciting expansions in crop production, building renovations, and animal-based programs, all with the ultimate goal of positively impacting the lives of veterans. 

  • Plays of the Day: Liberty University Mental Health Summit, Sunrise Easter Service, RS Payne Elementary School Visit, Wranglers Cohort Welcome 

  • In the Media:  Invictus RGS Speech, Amway Leader Event, Thomas Road Baptist Church Partnership Video 

  • Calendar: Highlighting Coming Events 

  • Prayer Points:  Prayer is God’s artillery to soften up and break through the tough obstacles we all face.  Thank you in advance for your prayers on behalf of Veterans and our life-changing work with them.  

Gratefully to each of you,

Robert F. Dees
Major General, U.S. Army, Retired
President and CEO, National Center for Healthy Veterans

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    YOUR encouragement and generosity
    have made these amazing things happen at Valor Farm. 
    We certainly welcome and need your further support on behalf of Returning Healthy Veterans to America!

    Join our Healthy Veterans Community!

    Meet The Team

    Meet Tom Illingworth: An Amazing Volunteer
    Tom Illingworth’s spirit of service and indomitable attitude are an inspiration here at the National Center for Healthy Veterans. Tom, with his tireless volunteering and valued partnership with the NCHV, is making a difference in the lives of our Veterans, those that are currently a part of the program and those that will be.

    A Life Marked by Determination and Achievement

    Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Tom’s journey has been one of dedication from the start. This was evident in his pursuit of academic and sporting excellence at boarding schools like Rectory School and Tabor Academy. Later, he earned a double major in Economics and Business Management from Marietta College, continuing his passion for rowing on the Varsity 8 Boat team.

    Tom’s competitive spirit didn’t stop there. He went on to win a prestigious Gold Medal at the Canadian Nationals in 1998 and Silver Medals at the US Rowing Nationals in 1999 and 2002. His sights were even set on the 2000 Sydney Olympic team. While Tom has achieved amazing athletic feats, he’s also a dedicated family man and proud father of four children, including triplets!

    Business Acumen Driven by a Desire to Give Back
    Tom’s career trajectory is as impressive as his athletic one. Building a strong foundation in various sales roles, he excelled as a Technical Manufacturer Sales Manager for industry giants like 3M, Agfa, Kodak, and Heidelberg. His work took him across 11 states before retiring at 48. Not one to slow down, he founded his own consulting business, Power 10 Sales Consultants.

    Since joining the Lynchburg, Virginia community in 2012, Tom has immersed himself in supporting solar energy adoption and sustainability initiatives. He has played a key role in establishing local startups in the solar industry.

    Nonprofits: Where Tom’s Heart Truly Lies
    With a deeply rooted belief in giving back, Tom channels his energy and expertise into several nonprofits. He has been instrumental in projects for Brook Hill Farms, Lynchburg Rotary (including serving as President and Area Governor), and the Alzheimer’s Association.

    Tom’s journey led him to the National Center for Healthy Veterans, where he quickly became an integral part of the team in 2021. He spearheaded the creation of a beautiful memorial garden, in honor of fallen Veterans and Rotarians like Len Rogers who introduced him to the farm. The Community Market, Pole Barn construction, and numerous farm maintenance projects all bear his mark.

    A Passion for Veterans and a Bright Future
    Tom’s work at NCHV reflects his lifelong passions. His determination, coupled with his business experience, makes him a tremendous asset. There’s no doubt his future is bright, with plans to create a rowing club in Lynchburg – a testament to his love of the sport and desire to enrich his community.

    The National Center for Healthy Veterans is fortunate to have Tom Illingworth as an unwavering advocate. With his tireless dedication and a heart of gold, he is truly a force for positive change in the lives of veterans and the broader community.

    Diving Deeper

    By: Jacob Corwin

    Spring has arrived at Valor Farm and the farm crew is as busy as our bees (who are currently working on a contract with the state government pollinating apple orchards btw). Our partnership with Veteran’s Farm of North Carolina (VFNC) has enabled us to make major progress in our crop production and we are extremely excited about the future of their involvement here at NCHV. Under the guidance of VFNC founder Robert Elliot – Jimmy, TJ, and some of our Patriots created a temporary greenhouse room in the barn, and have started from seed many of the vegetables that will be planted in our new garden beds over the next few weeks. Be looking for fresh produce announcements from our Healthy Veterans Market! 

    Thanks to the work of volunteers, the generosity of donors, Rotary Club of Forest, Moore’s Electric Company, and the dedication of our beloved ‘Master Guns,” the pole barn renovation is nearly complete, and we look forward to moving our egg and vegetable processing operations to that space, as well as setting up our agricultural education classroom and expanded woodshop! 

    All our four-legged friends are enjoying the fresh spring grass, and the horses are shedding their winter coats in preparation for summer! Equine Therapy in the warm sunshine is a pleasant change from the winter wind and we are looking forward to adding several new facilitators to our team as we bring on more Patriots! New horses are arriving for training, and our crew is gearing up to showcase some of the horses they have been developing through the winter during the upcoming show season. Speaking of shows – did you see the pictures from the Virginia Beach Bulls and Barrels Rodeo? True Grit Rodeo has been a faithful partner – helping us spread our mission and raise awareness in high-veteran populations across the state, as well as providing recreational activities and career opportunities for our Patriots.  

    One of our goals for all our farm and ranch programs is to be an educational center for the community, and we are excited to be able to expand our riding lesson program to now offer private and group lessons at all levels and for all ages. Additionally, in March we hosted a Masterson Method of Equine Bodywork Demonstration with our friend and volunteer Melissa Isgett, and we are extremely excited to host 11x World Champion horseman Greg D. Robinson for a clinic on May 11-12! 

    While all this measurable progress is exciting, it pales in comparison to the true impact of the farm on our Patriots. To see them relax, let down, and hear them laugh and joke as they work together to care for animals, plant seeds, or build a fence is truly priceless, and to watch them transform from lost and listless shells to vibrant, driven, and goal-oriented leaders is rewarding beyond words. Winston Churchill said, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.” Here at Valor Farm, we value sustainability and economic progress, but our true currency – our ultimate paycheck – is the positive change in people. 

    Plays of the Day

    Liberty University Health Summit:

    Liberty University’s first annual Mental Health Summit, including Dr. Kenyon Knapp and LU President, Dr. Dondi Costin, was a great success! The National Center for Healthy Veterans was honored to be a part of this important event. We were so inspired by the conversations we had.

    Sunrise Easter Service:

    On Easter Sunday, we gathered for a beautiful sunrise service. Veterans, staff, family, and friends shared in a moment of spiritual renewal and community connection. As the sun rose over the horizon, we reflected on the message of hope and resilience that Easter embodies. It was a heartwarming reminder that we walk this journey of healing together, supported by faith, love, and the promise of new beginnings.
    RS Payne Elementary School Visit:
    We enjoyed a great visit with RS Payne Elementary School. The students chose Veterans as their service project for this year. They spent 3 hours learning about Valor Farm and what we are doing to help Veterans. They especially enjoyed petting the horses and learning about the chickens. It is important to teach these younger generations about the sacrifices our servicemen and women have made for our country, and how they can give back now and in the future.
    Wranglers Cohort Welcome:
    We want to extend a warm welcome to our newest cohort, the “Wranglers!” We’re thrilled to have them embark on this transformative journey towards healing alongside our dedicated team.  The “Wranglers” name itself suggests a spirit of camaraderie and resilience – qualities essential for navigating the path to well-being. Get ready to saddle up, Wranglers!

    In The Media

    Amway Board Chairman Joe Markiewicz hosts Bob Dees to speak to Amway Leaders and film video for donations to NCHV

    Prayer Points

    • We encourage grateful prayers for our donors whose steadfast commitment makes our mission to Return Healthy Veterans to America possible. May their generosity inspire others to join us in this vital work.
    • Pray for wisdom and knowledge to work with our Veterans who are suffering with PTS/PTSD and other mental and emotional issues.
    • Pray that the work of the National Center for Healthy Veterans would continue to advance in the criteria needed to work with Veteran Families.
    • Pray for the NCHV Staff and volunteers; continued health and stamina. Pray for their families. Praise God for the men and women He sends to continue the work of “Returning Healthy Veterans to America.”
    • Join us in praising God for the beauty of His Creation — horses, rivers, cattle, valleys, chickens, the fruit of the land, the beauty of the fields, the wonder of His Creation. 


    Weekly NCHV Schedule
      • Thursdays at 4:00 p.m. Scheduled if interested.
      • Thursdays: Community Campfire at Valor Farm 6pm Come join us for fellowship!
      APRIL 2024
      • April 19, 2024 – Gen Dees and Dr. Al Sarno speak at Liberty University Mental Health Summit
      • Saturday, April 20, 2024: Volunteer
      • April 26, 20024 – Gen Dees Speaks to Amway Leaders Conference
      MAY 2024
      • May 2, 2024 – Gen Dees addresses the National Ground Intelligent Center, Charlotte
      • May 2, 2024 NCHV attends State of the Union of Virginia Suicide Prevention Seminar 
      • May 22, 2024 – Returning Healthy Veterans to America Reception and Fundraiser, sponsored by Hillwood, a Perot Company
        Reserve your spot by clicking here.
      • May 30, 224 – Philadelphia Veterans Appreciation Dinner – featuring Joe Piscopo, talented musicians, live auction, and NCHV patriot cameos. Union League Club of Philadelphia Reserve your spot by clicking here.
      NOVEMBER 2024
      • NCHV Veterans Day Commemoration, Guest Speaker TBD

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    In the last stage of the program Patriots learn about post graduation support and how to maintain balance in their new environments. They also conduct an outbound assessment of the outcome of their PDP and receive assistance transitioning to new employment and living arrangements.

    Key Activities or Objectives:

    • Outbound Assessments
    • Graduate Support Programs
    • Graduation
    Jobs for Life – A Faith-Based Approach to Career Preparation
    The National Center for Healthy Veterans (NCHV) offers a unique career preparation course called “Jobs for Life” during the third trimester of its program. This course goes beyond traditional career counseling by integrating biblical principles to instill a deeper understanding of the nature and purpose of work. 

    Key Activities or Objectives:

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    Key Activities or Objectives:

    • Less Pain, Anger, Fatigue, Anxiety, and Depression.
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    This one-of-a-kind course teaches you how to build bounce, weather the storm, and bounce back without getting stuck. This course is widely used in church and academic settings to build personal resilience.

    Key Activities or Objectives:

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    Intake, Inventory, and Assessment

    The Patriot onboarding period includes familiarization with the farm, its work, living, and recreational areas, an individual assessment, and creating the holistic Personal Development Plan.

    Key Activities or Objectives:

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    Returning Healthy Veterans to America