Brian retired from the United States Army after 14 years of service as both a journalist and a Green Beret. He Joined because of the events on September 11, 2001. Brian served 33 months in combat zones and earned 3 bronze stars, one with Valor, for his actions deployed as a Green Beret. Brian left Active Duty in 2012 and joined the National Guard and while he pursued his education in Social Work. As a citizen-Soldier, Brian started to identify the gaps in services for many of our Veterans returning home and as a BSW student at Saint Leo University, he helped form the Pasco County Stand Down, now known as the One Community Now Stand Down. In 2014, Brian attended the inaugural Post 9/11 Stanford Ignite, at Stanford University through the Graduate School of Business and subsequently developed a plan with partner Janel Norton to open up The Veterans Alternative in November 2014. Brian serves on several boards including the Veterans Transition Task Force, a think-tank for updating military to civilian Transition through legislation and collaboration.
Amy Anderson is a Registered Nurse and has spent most of her nursing career in Hospice, Home Health and Health Education. She holds a degree in Commercial Art and Design, as well as her 200 Hour RYT Yoga Teacher Certification. Amy met Brian through yoga when he was founding the Veterans Alternative. She found his story fascinating, and as a nurse, she believed in the concept of providing alternatives to medication as a healthier option to treat Veteran issues. She began volunteering to get the center up and running and has continued to volunteer ever since. In December 2016, with the Veterans Alternative becoming a quick success, Amy began assisting Brian full time and coordinating the non-profit’s events and fundraisers. Together they started The March Home, an internet show highlighting Veterans’ stories and organizations that provide services to Veterans. Amy and Brian were married in 2017.
Carola Rao, a current Pasco County resident and a Michigan transplant, is thrilled to bring her background in Art Therapy, Substance Abuse, and Mental Health counseling to the Veterans Alternative. Carola received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Central Michigan University and her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Argosy University, Tampa. Carola completed her LMHC certification working with Opioid Dependent populations and with Pasco County Drug Court parents who struggled with substance use and completing their child dependency case plans. Carola is excited to now work with combat veterans and provide Accelerated Resolution Therapy for this population, who are often struggling with PTSD and may have or are, currently dealing with transitional anxiety, following combat duty.
As our Outreach Coordinator, Jesse focuses on connecting Veterans Alternative with the local community and other veteran service organizations to promote our Retreat Program. Jesse received his Bachelor’s in Social Work and Minor in Psychology from Saint Leo University in 2016. He continued on to receive his Master’s in Social Work Advanced Clinical Practice in 2017. With a total of 34 self-employed years in the Ceramic Tile industry and 44 years as a musician, Jesse has melded his long belief in positive psychology along with his passion for music to design a unique music group experience offered at Veterans Alternative. Jesse's other passions are his family and martial arts, having earned his 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
As the Retreat Coordinator at Veterans Alternative, Betsy Bowman organizes the retreat program and assists the Clinical Director in helping Veterans and their families overcome PTSD and trauma. Betsy is a graduate of the University of South Florida with her Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), and is currently working towards her Masters in Social Work (MSW) and License in Clinical Social Work (LCSW) at the University of South Florida. Betsy has 23 years of experience working with at-risk children and families in the Public School System Guidance Department. After a life-threatening accident in 2011, and an extensive two-year recovery, Betsy found her true passion for helping others overcome PTSD and trauma through alternative therapies. She operates from a holistic perspective to empower her clients in making meaningful changes in their lives through the power of positive thinking, meditation, and visualization.
Batia Gold is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor at Veterans Alternative. She is trained in Accelerated Resolution Therapy (A.R.T.), an innovative technique that is evidence based and non-intrusive. Batia received her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Florida Gulf Coast University and her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Wayne State University. She is also a Certified Addictions Counselor and holds both state and International certification. Batia comes to Veterans Alternative from the Military and Family Life Counselor (MFLC) program that helps active duty Military Families through non-medical counseling. She has worked closely with families at MacDill Airbase, Ramstein AFB, Germany, and Lakenhealth AFB United Kingdom. Batia brings with her an understanding of the challenges faced by veterans through her work with the Salvation Army which services many homeless veterans. During her time at the Salvation Army Batia was the Clinical Program Manager for the family homeless shelter, men’s drug and alcohol program and State Drug Diversion Program. In addition, she was the Director of Out-Patient Services Desoto County for Coastal Behavioral Health. Batia has come to Veterans Alternative to pursue her passion for helping Veterans overcome their trauma by using the break though modality of A.R.T.
Matt retired from the United States Army with over 30 years of services as an Infantryman and Special Forces Green Beret. Matt has accumulated 5 years of service in combat zones including Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include the Combat Infantry Badge, Combat Medic Badge, 6 bronze stars for service and 1 bronze star for Valor. Matt has a degree in Business Management from Excelsior College and will be pursuing postgraduate studies in Non-Profit Management. Matt is excited about transferring the leadership skills he developed as a senior Non-Commissioned Officer to establish a Veterans Alternative Team House in Fayetteville, NC in the near future.