Meet Our Team

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Brian Anderson


Founder and CEO

Brian retired from the United States Army after 14 years of service as both a journalist and a Green Beret. Brian served 33 months in combat zones and earned 3 bronze stars, one with Valor, for his actions deployed as a Green Beret. 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. 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.

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Pat Fried


Chief Operating Officer

Patty Fried is a nonprofit executive with over 30 years’ experience. Patty received her Juris Doctorate from Creighton University. After practicing law for a couple of years, she soon found her passion in helping others in nonprofit organizations.  Patty began her nonprofit career with Eckerd Youth Alternative (EYA). During her 21 years with EYA, Patty held a variety of positions from direct care with at-risk youth to senior leadership positions in the corporate headquarters. With the foundation of her education, experience in nonprofits, and years of training and development throughout her career, Patty launched her nonprofit consulting business in 2014.  As President of Fried Consulting Services, Patty has helped over a dozen nonprofit organizations grow, develop, and become sustainable. She has a passion for helping in general, and embraces the opportunity to serve the Veteran and Military populations, having many close friends and family members who have served to protect our country.

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Chris Sowell


Team House Manager

Chris retired from the United States Army with over 15 years of service as a Combat Veteran and Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge (NCOIC) of Intelligence Support and Operations with the Combined Special Forces Operations Command Central. He then went on to work for the FBI Terrorists Screening Center as an Intelligence Analyst, where he strategically mapped and lead geospatial analysis operations. After retiring as an Intelligence Analyst in 2015, Chris came on as the Team House Manager at Veterans Alternative. As Team House Manager, Chris manages all local operations of the Team House to ensure effectiveness, efficiency and safety in all program services and activities provided. Today, Chris is excited to bring his experiences to Veterans Alternative and help other Combat Veterans transition back into civilian life.

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Matt Duffy


North Carolina Operations Manager

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.

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Ashleigh Goforth


Operations Coordinator

As the Operations Coordinator, Ashleigh is responsible for supporting all operational programs and providing direct assistance to the Chief Operating Officer in the daily operations of Veterans Alternative. Ashleigh received her Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of South Florida in 2017 and went on to receive her Master’s in Social Work with a concentration in Social Change and Innovation from the University of Southern California in 2018. Growing up with a widely diverse military family, Ashleigh is passionate about ensuring Veterans receive services that fit their unique and individual needs. She is honored and excited to work as an advocate for Combat Veterans through her work here at Veterans Alternative.

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Carola Rao


Licensed Mental Health Counselor/ART Certified

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.

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Batia Gold


Licensed Mental Health Counselor/ART Certified

Batia Gold is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor at Veterans Alternative. She is trained in Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), an innovative technique that is evidence based and non-intrusive. Batia received her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Florida Gulf Coast 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 has come to Veterans Alternative to pursue her passion for helping Veterans overcome their trauma by using the breakthrough modality of A.RT.

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Amy Anderson


Yoga and IRest Instructor

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 and Level 1 Integrative Restoration Certification. Amy met Brian through yoga when he was founding 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 Veterans Alternative becoming a quick success, Amy began assisting Brian full time, coordinating events and providing yoga and IRest classes to Veterans. 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.

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Betsy Bowman


Program Coordinator/ART Certified

As the Program Coordinator, Betsy Bowman organizes the Accelerated Wellness Program and assists the LMHC’s 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.

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Jesse Diaz


Outreach Coordinator

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.