Chief Executive Officer/Founder: Eric Peterson
Eric Peterson is on a mission to bring veterans together with their communities, nature, and themselves, while affecting change in regard to the mental health treatment of his fellow veterans through his 501(c)3 organization, Project Headspace and Timing. Eric, a graduate of Herscher High School, spent several years in the Middle East between the State Department, Department of Defense, and Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment of the Illinois Army National Guard. After his time in the Middle East, he found himself working in Executive Protection and as a private investigator until the suicide of a fellow teammate caused him to quit his former job, go back to school to study psychology, and form Project Headspace and Timing. Eric’s goals are to improve the transitional process for veterans into the civilian world, bridge the gap between communities that support their veterans but may not know how to show it with veterans who need that support but don’t know how to ask for it, and to one day run a transitional tiny home lodging facility and treatment center for veterans.
Chairwoman: Karen Smietanski
Karen Smietanski, Chairwoman of Project Headspace and Timing, is the daughter of a US Navy WWII veteran. She was raised in a small farm town south of Springfield. Her passion as always been in helping people. Never in a million years did she know that would lead her to helping veterans every day. Karen is the Assistant Superintendent at the Veterans Assistance Commission of Kankakee County. She is the Court Coordinator for the 21st Jurisdiction for the Veterans Treatment Court. She also graduated from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals Justice for Vets Mentor Boot Camp in 2013. Just over three years ago, Karen was invited to try out to become a National Trainer for County Veteran Service Officers. Now, she gets to teach people from all over the country the job she loves. Karen’s Federal Accreditation allows her to help veterans file claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability, pension, survivor’s pension, and death benefits.
Treasurer: Dr. Padraic Printy, PT, DPT
Padraic Printy earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy at University of Chicago in 2018. During his time as a student, he found himself volunteering often. This time was spent doing everything from treating at Chicago community clinics, to traveling to Nicaragua to provide much-needed Physical Therapy services to locals in need. Before P.H.A.T.’s inception, Dr. Printy had spoken with Eric Peterson often about working with disabled veterans, so when asked to be a board member, he jumped at the opportunity to give back to the veterans within his community. Dr. Printy is specifically interested in combining the psychosocial and physical aspects as they relate to recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration into civilian life.
Secretary: Dr. Cari Stevenson, Ph.D.
Cari Stevenson is a Community Psychologist and professor at Kankakee Community College where she co-advises the Veterans Association and coordinates student veteran programming through the Making Connections grant. Her doctoral dissertation explored sense of community, sense of purpose and empowerment among veterans transitioning into higher education. She also studies public perception and behavior towards service dogs and collaborates with 1Pet1Vet on service dog training program at KCC.
Tom Asay is the Founder and President of Aceshigh Management, a company that books and promotes local musicians in the Midwest, some of which have opened for national acts. After connecting with Project Headspace and Timing to manage media relations, music, and marketing for the Heroes, Hogs, and Hot Rods Festival of 2019, Tom began volunteering and working more closely with P.H.A.T. until his dedication to helping veterans turned into an invitation to becoming a board member in 2020. Tom uses his connections that he has built to help people, with a special passion for veterans being that his father was a World War II Veteran. Tom believes that the treatment of veterans could be improved upon, and that P.H.A.T. is the organization that can help accomplish this mission, \and is honored to be a member. Tom currently resides in Chebanse with his loving girlfriend and is a proud father of two daughters.
Outdoor Retreat Committee:
Kyle Lund is a 33-year-old fisherman who is married to the love of his life with which he has three amazing children, who also happen to share Kyle’s love of fishing. To Kyle, fishing is more than just a hobby, it is part of who he is. Kyle not only finds fishing enjoyable and a necessary resource for food, but also a way for him to cope with stress, and notes that fishing has been his therapy for as long as he can remember. Kyle has always had a deep passion for the military and veterans. While not being a veteran himself, he chooses to honor those who have by sharing his passion for fishing and being in the great outdoors with them. It is Kyle’s hope that fishing can help veterans in the same ways it has helped him, and cannot wait to get some out onto the water with him.
David McCleery is a 44-year-old veteran married to the love of his life, father to four children and grandfather to four wonderful grandkids. David served in the NAVY Seabees as an equipment operator for 14 years before being honorably discharged. Fishing, hunting, and outdoor activities are more than just hobbies for David, they make-up the foundation of who he is. David found that when the stress (PTSD) becomes too much to handle, that the outdoors has always been a place that he could be himself and destress, and has been his therapy for as long as he can remember. David has had a deep passion for the military even before becoming a veteran and has taken the mission of saving his brothers and sisters-in-arms from succumbing to the wounds of PTSD and becoming victims of the 22. David loves to share his passion for fishing, hunting, and the great outdoors with anyone, but most of all he wants to help any veteran in need and wants veterans to know that while he understands how hard it can be to reach out, that he is always here without judgement.
Educational Outreach Committee:
Jimmy Miks, VFW Post 1337
Jimmy’s grandparents, Joseph Miks Sr. and Jean Miks, cared for veterans every Sunday at the North Chicago VA hospital for fourteen years. Jimmy’s father, Joseph Miks, served as an MP for the US Army 458 the River Patrol in Vietnam. His father, a 100-percent disabled veteran, recently passed away from agent orange related cancer. Once the state of Illinois moved to have school in-session on Veterans Day, Jimmy worked to connect education to patriotism and to veteran service work. From 2014-2018, he acted as a founding board member for A Soldier’s Journey Home and helped students honor veterans through fundraising and character education. Students in turn helped build five homes for disabled veterans. In 2018, he left the ASJH board to begin working on Veterans Village concepts with the Nine Line Foundation. Jimmy, with the help for former ASJH board member Dave Wietrzak, helped fund and construct twenty tiny homes for NLF Veterans Village in Savannah, Georgia. He still works to help NLF with its mission to extend its Veterans Village in Brunswick, Georgia. Jimmy’s number one goal is to serve our veterans as they work to rebuild hope and to reconstitute character. He is grateful to SALUTEINC, Roadhome, Creativets, 1Pet1Vet, Nine Line Foundation, VFW Post 1337, and to VVA 311 for supporting students in their efforts to support veterans. He gives special thanks for his colleagues and to the students at Hersey High and to the members of ASJH (now tied to the Siller Foundation) for showing him what belonging to something more important than yourself is all about. He hopes students feel patriotic about welcoming our heroes home, that they learn resilience, loyalty, courage, and other character pillars from veterans, and graduate with knowledge of 9/11, Patriot’s Day, our Constitution, and what it means to achieve something more important than a resume – our country! As the Educational Outreach Coordinator, he is thrilled to join Project Headspace and Timing’s mission to connect veterans to the community, to nature, and to themselves. Jimmy is most thankful for his family. His wife Christine and two daughters, Madison and Molly, afford him countless hours to serve our nation’s veterans.
Todd’s family tree includes ancestors who fought for the Union during the American Civil War. His grandfather John Neville was a Chicago Police Officer for 35 years, served with the US Navy during WWII, and was stationed at Midway Island. John was a huge influence in his life and upbringing all the way through college. Todd’s father, Clark Hatfield, served with the US Marines in Vietnam. Honorably discharged after multiple tours, his father was awarded the Bronze Star, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry as well as being a multiple Purple Heart recipient. Clark, a 100-percent disabled veteran, recently passed away from agent orange related cancer. In 2014, Todd began working with A Soldier’s Journey Home (ASJH) and quickly discovered what his students could provide for the organization and in return the opportunity the organization could provide for his students. As a high school teacher, he developed positions for students to experience patriotism through service work with the veteran community. Logging 5,000 miles and counting, his mass communication students have followed and documented the work ASJH does through the use of photography, film, and storytelling. Understanding the value for all participating parties with this volunteer work, Todd’s students have also worked with Nine Line Foundation, Road Home Program at Rush, and CreatiVets. This veteran service work included graphic design students as well. Those students both design and produce various promotional and fundraiser material in the working production lab at John Hersey High School, where he teaches. These first-hand opportunities for the students allow them to witness and experience the true definition of sacrifice. Todd is excited about the ways his students can assist in helping Project Headspace and Timing (PHAT) and its belief in community and selflessness. His family rallies behind and supports each endeavor he pursues in assisting our veterans. Todd’s wife Valerie and two sons, Vaughn and Corbin, look forward to opening their hearts to PHAT and helping our local veterans right here in Illinois.