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Executive Director

Eric Darling
Founder/Counselor/Trainer

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.

 

The Board of Directors

Edward A. Faatz
Founder/President

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.

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Robert J. Kerecman
Vice President

Staff Sergeant (Retired) Robert J. Kerecman was born in Scranton, PA. He enlisted in the United States Army as an Infantryman in 1985. He attended basic training at Harmony Church, Ft. Benning, GA. He was stationed in Baumholder Germany with the 8th Infantry Division’s A Company 1-13 Infantry. After a 10-year break in service he enlisted in the PA National Guard’s 28th Infantry Division and served in the 1-109 Infantry, 2-103 Armor, 55 BSTB and retired from the 1-104 Cavalry.

Staff Sergeant (Retired) Robert J. Kerecman was born in Scranton, PA. He enlisted in the United States Army as an Infantryman in 1985. He attended basic training at Harmony Church, Ft. Benning, GA. He was stationed in Baumholder Germany with the 8th Infantry Division’s A Company 1-13 Infantry. After a 10-year break in service he enlisted in the PA National Guard’s 28th Infantry Division and served in the 1-109 Infantry, 2-103 Armor, 55 BSTB and retired from the 1-104 Cavalry.

Bob graduated from the University of Scranton in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science degree in clinical psychology and criminal justice. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Intermediate Care Facility for People with Intellectual Disabilities at St. Joseph’s Center, Scranton, PA.   He has served on the St. Joseph’s Center Auxiliary Board of Directors and is a past co-chair of the Northeast Regional Council for Integration and Inclusion.

Bob is married to the former, Linda L. Loomis and together they have 3 children and 3 grandchildren.

Valarie Riggi
Treasurer

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.

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John was born and raised in the “patch” section of Dunmore, Pennsylvania.  After graduating from Dunmore High School in 1986, he enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, joining the 1st Battalion of the 109th Infantry Regiment, where he served in various companies as 11B (Infantry),  11H (antiarmor Infantryman), 11C (mortarman) and 11M (mechanized Infantry) for 22 years.  He has deployed overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and has also been activated for state active duty during numerous floods, blizzards and other state of emergencies as a Keystone Citizen-Soldier.

In the civilian world, John has worked in the past for the Abington Journal and AT&T.  Since 2006, he has worked as a corrections officer for the Pennsylvania Department of Correctons.

His hobbies include:role playing games, shooting, and creative writing.  

In 2000, John married the love of his life, Andrea and the two are proud parents of a daughter and a son.

John has worked for years to end suicide in the Veteran community; creating a local group called Vocal Veterans, and among state correctional staff as a part of the DOC program Correctional Outreach for Veteran and Employee Reintegration (COVER).

John Wharton
Secretary
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Rev. Jim Noone
Board Member

Jim served in the Air Force in the 416 support group SAC Griffiths Air Force Base Rome New York from 1977 to 1988.  After leaving service Jim struggled with addiction and after finding healing for himself began working to help others who are enslaved to addiction.  Jim pursued training and certification to become an ordained minister, State Certified Recovery Specialist, Family Certified Recovery Specialist and is certified through the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).  Reverend Noone has been working in recovery addiction issues for 30 years.  Today, Jim leads Valhalla Veterans Services’ D&A support groups and is involved as a chaplain and leader with several other Veterans groups and D&A groups.

Jim Dixon
Board Member

Sergeant James (Jimmy)Dixon(USAF Sep) is a native of Throop,Pa. After graduating from Lakeland Jr/Sr High School, Jimmy entered theUSAF and attended Lackland AFB, Tx for basic training in July 1985 followed by tech school at Sheppard AFB,TX where he trained as a Dental Assistant Specialist. During his 8 year career, Jimmy spent time at Cannon AFB, N.M, Ramstein A.B., W. Germany, and Plattsburgh A.F.B., N.Y.
Following his Air Force service, Jimmy returned to the Scranton area where he continued his tradecraft as a fabrication welder with several area companies. He has also cooked professionally for area catering halls as well as Allied Services Long Term Center. He has also consulted area businesses concerning ADA railing requirements. Jimmy currently serves as the Valhall Veterans Services facility project manager.
Jimmy’ s hobbies include photography and video, spending time at shooting ranges and reloading .
Jimmy is widowed with 2 daughters, Rachel and Aimee. He has 4 grandchildren: Zakary, Eric, AnnaBella,
and Jasmine.

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Jim Ashman
Board Member

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.