At Valhalla we believe the best people to train veterans or teach about veterans are veterans.
No Kidding - right?
Meet our Growing Team
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The Board of Directors
Sergeant First Class (Retired) Eric Darling was born in Scranton Pennsylvania. He joined the Army in February of 1987. He has served as a Senior Human Resources Sergeant, Master Resilience Trainer, Suicide Intervention Trainer, Range Operations Sergeant, Readiness NCO, Infantry Platoon Sergeant, Infantry Squad Leader, Recruiter, Drill Sergeant and a Military Policeman. He participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was deployed to the AL Anbar Province of Iraq from 2005 to 2006. He has been assigned to the following units: the 402nd MP Company, Ashley PA, the 98th Division Olean NY, the 109th Infantry Regiment, Scranton PA, the 55th Heavy Combat Team, Scranton PA, and the 109th Field Artillery Regiment, Wilkes Barre PA. During his tenure as the 55th Brigade Resilience Coordinator Sergeant First Class Darling developed, managed and delivered the Army’s Resilience and Suicide Intervention programs to over 3500 Soldiers throughout the Brigade.
Since 9/11 Eric has lost eight Soldiers to suicide, seven in combat, and four to combined use of prescription drugs and alcohol. He created Valhalla Veterans Services in 2016 with the goal of helping veterans and their families find connection, purpose and hope. Eric has completed a Master of Arts in counseling at Clarks Summit University and is currently working toward a Masters of Science and licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Eric is VVS’ in-house counselor, curriculum writer, and trainer. He is currently working on a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy curriculum for delivery to veterans who are incarcerated.
Edward A. Faatz
Through most of his life, Ed was involved in music and performed with numerous musical groups throughout the Scranton area. He joined the U.S. Naval Reserves in 1964 working toward an electrical specialty. In 1964 he was allowed to be released to join the U.S. Air Force. After completing tech school, Ed was assigned to Aerospace wing Systems Command at Patrick AFB Florida, where he worked with N.A.S.A. on Gemini VIII, IX, X, XI, and XII and Apollo I, He received an honorable discharge in November 1968 holding the rank of Sergeant.
In his volunteer pursuits, Ed has served as an officer in numerous organizations. He also co-founded of the Veterans of Vietnam War, Parker-Wescott Memorial Post #40. Ed was instrumental in completing the ‘All Veterans Memorial’ that stands outside the
Abington Community Library, and the naming of the Parker-Wescott Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge of Clarks Summit, Pa. He served as 2 year Pennsylvania State commander, and was member of the International Board of Directors – Veterans of Vietnam War Inc. and the Veterans Coalition for 7 years. While volunteering with the Veterans of the Vietnam War, he served as National Honor Guard Coordinator and in this capacity, presented the Organizations’ flags and also the National Colors at the National Memorial Day and Veterans Day activities at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery numerous times. Ed was the Chairman of the committee that successfully convinced the Pennsylvania Legislators to name the Northern most bridge of the Pa. Turnpike the “Freedom Bridge” in honor of all POW/MIA’s. He served as Commander of American Legion Post #437 of Clarks Summit, Pa., Adjutant of American Legion Post #13 and Secretary of Home Association of Post #13 Dunmore, Pa. He is also a member of AMVETS, DAV, the Lackawanna County Council of Veterans, and the Lackawanna County Veteran Resource Coalition. He was appointed to and then elected as the president of the Friends of the Forgotten, Inc. Northeast-wing prior. Mr. Faatz was invited to attend a private showing of the PBS TV Series “The Vietnam War Story”. He was acknowledge for his contribution of information in the Book “The 56 Fallen” written by Jason Amico. Ed has served as co-chairman of the committee to establish and dedicate the Lackawanna County Korean Memorial erected at the Veterans Memorial Park in Dunmore, and has served on the Lackawanna County Vietnam Memorial that was erected at the Lackawanna County Courthouse.
Isaac grew up in Utah and enlisted on Active Duty in the Army as an 11b Infantryman in 1996. He attended basic training at Sand Hill, Fort Benning, GA. He was stationed as a member of 3rd US Infantry “The Old Guard” where he served in the Presidential Honor Guard performing marching details and full honor firing parties. He transitioned to the Caisson Platoon, excelling through all positions within the platoon, performing over 650 full honor funerals in Arlington Cemetery for our Nations Heroes on horseback. Isaac performed search and rescue on Operation Nobel Eagle at Pentagon during 9/11. In 2001 he re-classed to 68A Biomedical Technician, at Sheppard's Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas. He was later assigned to Heidelberg, Germany, 30 MED Brigade and tasked to support the 67th Combat Support Hospital He served in Camp Speicher, Tikrit, Iraq 2004-05 on Operation Iraqi Freedom supporting the combat operations between Balad, Mosul and Tikrit.
In 2006 he moved to North East Pennsylvania and began working at the Tobyhanna Army Depot in the United States Army Medical Materiel Agency, which outfits our nations warfighters with the medical devices needed to operate all medical modalities from the aide station to the Combat Support Hospitals worldwide.
His hobbies include: Brewing Beer, shooting, Hunting, Fishing, and Skiing, camping, running and travelling with my wife. Isaac has a passion to assist our US Warfighters and all those who have served and/or support our nation's soldiers both locally and abroad standing for our freedoms and liberties we enjoy today.
Isaac married his high-school sweetheart, Melissa, and together they raised three boys.
“My God, my family, my duty and the time I spent laying to rest our fallen brothers and sisters in Arlington, serving in war and within a Combat Support Hospital in Iraq has molded me into who I am today. I have seen those who were patched up and returned to the front lines, those that returned home alive but severely wounded and those who were not so fortunate. As a Veteran, we see life today very differently than someone who has not served within the Military. I see life through goggles formed of my life's experiences just as each of you do. We take less for granted than most, as we lived and served with no need for a thank you but out of duty and obligation.”
Jenny Pacanowski is a poet/combat veteran/facilitator/public speaker/actor/curator. In the Army while deployed to Iraq, Jenny was a combat medic and provided medical support for convoys with the Marines, Air Force and the Army. She also did shifts in the Navy medical hospital. In Germany, she was part of a medical evacuation company.
Jenny founded and is the Director of Women Veterans Empowered & Thriving. This group strives to create a secure space for women veterans to be empowered by their experiences, to release guilt and shame and see the triumphs of their lives.
The women veterans also engage in Empowerment performances recreating rituals of past warrior cultures such the Greeks, Romans and Native Americans by asking the community to uphold their civic duty and listen as they speak their truth. The audience has the opportunity to ask questions and truly welcome the veterans home.
Jenny is also the Associate director of Impact Theatre: The Veterans project which has collaborated with the One Fight Foundation on Combat Conversations: Families Affected by War. This project Jenny takes great pride in because of the
ability to bring NYC resources to Pennsylvania.
Her collaborations include Artsquest, Haverford College, NYU, Decruit, CUNY, Ithaca College, Syracuse University, Drake University, Poetic Theater Productions,
Aquila Theatre and The Military Resilience Foundation along with many other organizations. Jenny has performed at the Lincoln Center Atrium, The New York Cultural and Ethical Society, Poetic License: Kicking down Doors, Veterans Special; Impact theatre Salon at the Lucid Body House, LaGuardia Community College Veteran Week and Aquila Theatre@ GK arts center. She has been published in, “The War Horse,” “Reflections; Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing and Service Learning,” “Journal of Military Behavioral Health,” “The Indypendent, online magazine,” “The I’mpossible Project,” and multiple poetry anthologies.
In March 2017, Jenny co-wrote in the Production of Our Trojan War by Aquila Theatre at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in which her contribution was Circe’s story. In 2018, Jenny adapted the Greek tragedy, “The Bacchae” into the modern
time of war and American society called, “Dionysus in America.” Jenny is also a trained Decruiter at the Decruit program that pairs Shakespeare and the personal reflections of veterans in a program proved to help diminish
depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress symptoms. You can read about Jenny’s multiple projects in the Washington Post and New York Times. As a veteran herself, Jenny’s goal is to facilitate and collaborate with
reintegration programs that will contribute to lowering the suicide, homelessness and addiction epidemics that plague our veterans.
Valerie Riggi is the wife of a Korean Vet and a retired teacher from the Scranton School District. She taught Accounting and many other business subjects including Academic Computer Business Applications. She has recently given up her Securities, Life, and Med. Sup. Insurance Licenses to devote more time to volunteering in several service organizations. Along with accepting the position of treasurer for the Valhalla Veterans Services, she is also President of the Geisinger CMC Auxiliary, President of Friends of the Forgotten NE Wing, Inc., Treasurer of Keystone Chapter of UNICO National, and on the board (and past president) of the Jefferson Lions. She loves to work with numbers and on the computer. She is an avid reader and musician who still plays clarinet with a professional band, The Ringgold Pops of Scranton. Her leisure is spent watching the Yankees.
SFC Homes joined the Navy on June 3rd, 1991 reporting to Orlando Florida for Navy Basic Training, then to Dam Neck, Virginia to train as an Intelligence Specialist. His first assignment was to Special Boat Crew 22 where he served 2 years in support of Special Operations. He then was assigned to the USS Independence CV-22 in Japan and spent some time at Naval Station Rota, Spain. After completing his tour in Japan he reported to Lackland Air Force Base where he attended military police officer training. SFC Holmes completed this course with perfect scores in every category, being the first to ever reach this level of high academic achievement. Upon completion of his training he was assigned to Whidbey Island Air Station, in the state of Washington where he served at the Navel Ocean Processing Facility for the next 3 years. His next assignment placed him at Port Hueneme, California with the Navel Mobile Construction Battalion 40. SFC Holmes left the active duty Navy for 3 short months,
but returned to Navy service after the attacks of 9/11. In 2005, SFC Holmes entered the Army with the 85th Division in Arlington Heights, Illinois and shortly thereafter was accepted into the Active Guard Reserve program. He spend 2 years with the 4th Calvary Brigade at Fort Know Kentucky, then reported to the 412th Engineer Company, Scranton, Pennsylvania as the Unit Logistics NCO. After completing his tour in Scranton, PA, he was Department of The Army selected assigned to the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, Camp Parks California, as the Senior Logistics NCO and became the schoolhouset 1SG. His last assignment was the Operations NCOIC and Training NCO for the Tobyhanna Army Depot, High Tech Schoolhouse, where he oversaw the instruction of various Signal Military Occupation Specialties to included training requirements for all instructors and School house staff in ordnance with Department of the Army regulations. Ty was deployed nine times in
Bosnia, Iraq, Somalia, Kuwait and to New Orleans during Katrina as part of the rescue mission
Melissa Meyers was born in New Jersey and raised in Pennsylvania. She is a 2003 graduate of Wallenpaupack Area High School and is a current student at Park University. Melissa enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2004 and proceeded to Parris Island, South Carolina in April of 2005 for boot camp. Upon graduation in July of 2005, she attended Marine Combat Training at Camp Geiger, North Carolina and then went to Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) school at Navy and Marine Intelligence Training Center located in Virgina Beach, Virginia. After completion of MOS school, Melissa was stationed at 1st Intelligence Battalion located in Camp Pendleton, California. She was promoted to the rank of Sergeant on April 1, 2009. Melissa was an All-Source Intelligence Analyst during her five years on active duty. During her first combat tour to Iraq, she was stationed on Camp
Fallujah at the Tactical Fusion Center. On her second combat tour to Iraq in 2007, she was the analyst for a Counter Intelligence Team stationed on Al Asad. During her final combat tour to Iraq in 2008, she was the lead analyst for the Joint Surveillance Target and Attack RADAR Systems team stationed on Al Asad.
Melissa separated from active duty in April of 2010. She moved home to Pennsylvania and began working as a Secretary in 2011 at Tobyhanna Army Depot. In 2014, she began working for Civilian Human Resources Agency, a tenant of Tobyhanna Army Depot, and is currently a Human Resources Specialist (Staffing and Classification). Melissa's decorations from her military and civilian service include the Navy and Marine Corps Achivement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Operation Iraqi Freedom with gold star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Certificate of Appreciation for volunteering to do Color Guard at a local elementary school, Meritorious Mast for stand out leadership in MCT, Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding support and volunteerism for the Tobyhanna Army Depot Veteran's Councils Ceremonies, Certificate of Appreciation for selfless contribution as a Suicide Prevention and Awareness Trainer for Tobyhanna Army Depot, and a Certificate of Recognition for ten years of service to the United States Government.Melissa and her husband, Gary Meyers, reside in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. They have three children and two dogs.
Leo Russo joined the 109th Infantry, Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1997 and left service in 2016. He had several breaks in service but every time a new deployment was announced, Leo returned to service and deployed with his unit. Leo deployed three times, once to Bosnia and twice to Iraq. He served as an infantryman, an infantry team leader, Calvary Squad Leader, and as a journalist for the 55th Brigade public affairs section. In the civilian world Leo has worked as a producer for several local news outlets.
Leo has lost several of his comrades to suicide, opioids, and other risk-taking behaviors. He is committed to finding solutions to the issues that plague veterans.
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Jim Ashman is a U.S. Navy Reserve Veteran, having served from February 1981 to November 2001. While serving as a cook he was assigned to the Medical Unit of NR CBTZ Fleet Hospital 15 in Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia from 10 Feb.1991 to 15 April 1991.
Jim retired from North Pocono School District Moscow PA after 26 years of employment in the maintenance department. Oct. 1982 to June 2008.
He was employed at Polarize Meat for 14 years and held other positions such as cab driver, roofing & siding and Giant Food Store associate.
In his volunteer endeavors Mr. Ashman has worked with Relay for Life.
From 2002 to 2006 as Logistics & Facilities.
He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post # 5554 and the American Legion Post # 328. He is also a member of Lackawanna County Council of Veterans and the Veteran Resources Coalition. He currently is treasurer of Friends of the Forgotten Inc. N.E. Wing.