Donna Nasr has spent her whole adult life helping some of the biggest defense companies in the world secure Department of Defense contracts.
She’s worked for companies like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, SAIC, General Dynamics, and Raytheon.
And while the government bidding process is often confusing to navigate, she took pride in the fact that the contracts she worked on helped active duty service members get the training and equipment they needed to fight the War on Terror and come home.
While working in Florida in 2014, Nasr noticed that those she helped return home were failing to integrate back into society as they struggled with PTSD, often leading those service members to commit suicide.
“My life’s work has been successful in their mission in coming back alive, beating the bad guy,” said Donna Nasr, founder, and president of Warriors2US. “Then they’re coming home in desperation, PTSD, hooked on meds, alcohol. Their life is falling apart. Their families don’t want to be around them. So, I wanted to do something.”
With a new mission in mind, Nasr turned to her vacation property in Hardenville, Missouri, coming up with a plan to convert it into a recreational working camp for active-duty service members, veterans, and first responders.
In 2018, she broke ground and began building the property’s lodge. She also established Warriors2US, a 501(c)(3), along with Dominic Brezo, a former Seabee in the United States Navy Reserves, and Josh Shoaff, a former law enforcement officer and S.E.R.E instructor for the U.S. Army.
“This gives them a place to come to and either chill out or adrenaline rush,” Nasr said. “People can bring quads. They can hunt. It’s all up to their own discretion.”
The recreational work camp is roughly 30 minutes away from Mountain Home, right on the other side of the Arkansas/Missouri border, and sits on 183 acres of land.
The property, which is also home to Nasr’s private house, features a two-story lodge for visitors to stay in, a full workshop and garage, a gun range, and a game room in the lower section of Nasr’s home.
The top story of the lodge houses most of the bedrooms, a full bathroom and kitchen, and a living room for guests to watch movies in. The downstairs section features a more private bedroom and bathroom space, a sitting area, and the workshop.
“It houses 18 people, give or take,” Nasr said. “It’s basically like a cozy, home place to go in order to not have all the pressure and anxieties of their life on them. It’s only for a week, you know, to try and get yourself right instead of going and sleeping under a bridge somewhere or running away from home.”
Nasr and Warriors2US are currently in the process of building new facilities on the property as well. These facilities will include a church, a long-range gun range, a pole barn for classrooms, and a fully functioning campground.
There are also plans to add a woodworking class, set to begin in the spring, and several classes on integrating back into society through job training and resumé building.
Nasr said Warriors2US would also begin hosting events in the local area to raise funds for new projects.
“What I would like to be a part of is where people come here for a week or two at a time so that they can readjust to society and learn how to do a resumé,” Nasr said.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.
Those with PTSD can often have a variety of symptoms, including anxiety, trouble sleeping, the feeling of being on edge, anger, and depression.
Roughly 20 out of every 100 service members who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD, while Gulf War and Vietnam Veterans have a PTSD rate of 12-15 per 100.
An average of 22 veterans commit suicide each day.
“If I even save a couple of souls, I’ll be happy because I’ve been successful in my mission,” Nasr said. “If people don’t come and use this place, then I failed.”
For more information on Warriors2US, please contact (321) 750-3662.