Non-Profits on Fire

The men and women in this category have turned their own first-hand veteran experiences into successful and well-known non-profit enterprises, all of which have the mission of helping service members as well as those within their local communities. These individuals understand the importance of building a strong community and recognize the constant challenges that many veterans and their families face. As such, they have dedicated their life’s work to ensuring that they bring positive and impactful change to those around them, as well as offering relevant opportunities for veterans to find a way to continue their call to serve.

Josh Goldberg, Boulder Crest Institute for Posttraumatic Growth

Josh Goldberg is the Executive Director of the Boulder Crest Institute for Posttraumatic Growth where he oversees the curriculum development, Research and development efforts, a technology platform called myPATHH, and the organizations social and policy change. Josh is leading all of Boulder Crest’s efforts on expanding the successful warrior PATHH program, nationwide. Josh leads a training effort for active duty military personnel and recently spoke about suicide prevention with over 9000 active duty Marines at the 2nd Marine Division. Josh is also a Presidential Leadership Scholar.


Sarah Verardo, The Independence Fund

Sarah Verardo has been an advocate for our wounded Veterans and their Caregivers since her husband, Michael was catastrophically wounded in Afghanistan. Starting as a volunteer with The Independence Fund, Sarah’s steadfast devotion, experience, and drive led to her eventual selection as the organization’s first Chief Executive Officer. Sarah continues carrying on the legacy of The Independence Fund’s founder by providing all-terrain track wheelchairs to Veterans and has provided nearly 2,400 chairs to date. In 2018, she created the nonprofit’s Family, Adaptive Sports, and Advocacy programs, and recently developed a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs that will combat Veteran suicide through reunions of some of the hardest hit units of the War on Terror. Sarah also wrote and published a book to help children understand the challenges our wounded Veterans and their families encounter.


James Ferguson, Warrior Reunion Foundation

Founded by two Marine combat veterans in 2017, Warrior Reunion Foundation exists to provide all combat veterans with the opportunity to reunite, remember, and recover together. After only a year and a half in existence, they have reunited over 300 combat veterans and Gold Star Family Members. The Warrior Reunion Foundation’s mission is to provide Veterans and Service Members with the opportunity to reunite with there past comrades. They leverage their experience, partnerships, and resources to deliver unparalleled, all-inclusive unit reunion events that enable warriors to reunite, remember and recover together.

LauraBeth Messimer, G.I. Josie

LauraBeth Messimer is the founder of G.I Josie, a non-profit based in Monterey County, designed to provide non-clinical therapeutic programs to women veterans to help alleviate their suffering from Military Sexual Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, offering them hope of a trauma-free future.

In the last year, G.I. Josie has become even closer to its’ ultimate goal of creating a transitional ranch community for women veterans to heal. The Equine Project partnered this year with Backstretch Ranch in Aromas, Ca. creating a permanent location with over 60 horses at veterans’ leisure. Also, G.I.Josie held its annual Blue Water Project, with over 10 participants, designed for activities above, below and around water, primarily the Pacific Ocean. Participants learn to surf, body board, kayak, stand up paddle board, all while learning to respect the ocean and her might. In addition, “Healing with Laughter,” a quarterly improvisation comedy workshop is another favorite that provides practical and easily implementable coping tools through laughter.


Scott Cooper, Vets for American Ideals

In 2015, Scott Cooper, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, founded Vets for American Ideals, a nonpartisan group of veterans who believe America is strongest when its policies match its ideals. He has grown VFAI to 4,000+ members who advocate for greater protection of refugees and wartime allies, for an end to bigotry, and for all Americans to serve.

Scott is a trusted source on Capitol Hill. He has enabled more than 100 veterans to advocate directly to their MoCs on the Hill. His work has not only led to concrete policy outcomes, but it is also inspiring veterans nationwide to work across political divides and become advocates for themselves, for others, and for American ideals.


Del Seymour, Code Tenderloin

In 2015, a formerly homeless man launched Code Tenderloin, a non-profit that provides job readiness training and basic coding skills to the city’s homeless, formerly incarcerated, and disenfranchised populations — with the goal of putting them to work in the tech industry. About half of the 300 people that Code Tenderloin has accepted into the program reported finding employment after graduation. An elite few have landed six-figure salaries as software engineers and customer service technicians at companies including Microsoft and LinkedIn.


Meghan Ogilvie, Dog Tag Bakery

Meghan Ogilvie is CEO of Dog Tag Bakery (DTB), Meghan helps bridge the military-civilian divide; DTB not only providing a living business school for service-disabled veterans, military spouses, and caregivers but also educates our community about issues facing veterans and military families. Outside of her day-to-day responsibilities with Dog Tag, Meghan takes an active role in the advocating for veterans and military families, and never misses an opportunity to inspire and educate about issues facing those communities––from media appearances and speaking at conferences to giving motivational speeches. Her activism and leadership earned Meghan a spot in the Presidential Leaders Scholars Program, the U.S Army Chief of Staff award, and an accolade as a “rising star” the Washington Business Journal’s 2018 “Women Who Mean Business” feature.


Dave Walker, Coalition to Salute America’s Veterans

Dave Walker is the President and CEO of the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes. The mission of the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes is to help severely-wounded veterans and families of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn recover from their injuries and illnesses, and to inspire other organizations and the general public to participate in this effort. As CEO, Walker has presided over this effort to help our Nation’s wounded Veterans.