Photography by Trevor Barlow
Honoring, Empowering, Assisting, Training
Introducing Veterans’ Heat Factory, a 501c3 organization formed to serve our local veterans community. Veterans are not charged for services.
Twenty-two veterans with PTSD take their life each day. Gus Guadagnino, of Joni Industries and Hernando County School Board Member, wanted to do something. He was already active with K-9 Partners for Patriots but he wanted to do more. His research led him to others in the community as well as staff from St. Leo University to bring a 14 week program to Hernando County to empower veterans to unlock their full potential, encourage personal growth, support their re-entry to the workforce and realize lifelong success.
The Veterans’ Heat Factory program is multi-faceted and would need space for exercise equipment, recreation, tables and chairs for discussions and lectures so Guadagnino moved his Joni Industries manufacturing off-site, providing a large, comfortable place for veterans to meet. The 14 modules of the program include exercise, health and wellness, managing anxiety, sleep hygiene, managing anger, relationships, substance abuse, budgeting and finance and moving forward, ie. community projects, mentoring, school or job training, resume writing and job interview preparation, among others. Links to other organizations that support veterans and involving family members in the healing process of PTSD are also provided. Groups are kept small, up to six but can be one on one. The program is free and open to all veterans in Hernando County.
Funding to run the program is provided by local businesses and individuals through donations and fundraisers such as an upcoming golf tournament at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club and a Pasta Fest at Papa Joe’s in November. Guadagnino said our community should be proud to support the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep us safe and if everyone would donate one third of one paycheck before Veterans Day, the program would be funded indefinitely.
Operating since last October, the Veterans Heat Factory has had several successes and the future looks promising. Veterans also help at the Heat Factory, such as volunteer Dale Madrishin, a Vietnam vet who also once suffered from PTSD. Guadagnino hopes to raise awareness of the needs of the military community and to provide a program that can be copied nationwide.
“Our veterans have earned the best we can provide, regardless of their current circumstances. I have decided that the rest of my working life will be focused on helping those that have served for a better life for me and our country, our American veterans,” said Gus Guadagnino, Founder, Veterans’ Heat Factory.
For more information call the Veterans’ Heat Factory at (352) 796-4323 or visit https://www.facebook.com/Veterans’ heat factory/