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Melwood Announces “Dining For Veterans” Campaign

In recognition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month in June, Melwood invites the community to take part in its “Dining For Veterans” campaign. Participating restaurants in the greater metropolitan DC area have agreed to donate a portion of their proceeds from Memorial Day, May 29, through Independence Day, July 4, to Melwood’s Operation: Tohidu®, a retreat program in Nanjemoy, MD, for veterans from around the country who suffer from post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury, and other service-related traumas.

Since 9/11, overseas conflicts have produced at least 650,000 veterans with service-related injuries — and thousands more have invisible wounds, such as PTS. Any veteran or active duty service member who has been diagnosed or is self-reporting with PTS or other service-related trauma is eligible to attend Operation: Tohidu® — at no cost to them. The retreats focus on confidence-building and reintegration through experiential learning, outdoor activities, education, and group discussions.

“Operation: Tohidu® is run by veterans, for veterans,” said Melwood’s Program Director of Veteran Affairs, David Blackledge, who is a retired Army Brigadier General with two Purple Heart medals for wounds sustained in combat. “I understand all too well the effects of PTS, brain injury, and other service-related traumas. At Tohidu®, we provide a peaceful and supportive atmosphere where participants connect with nature and their fellow warriors, and with the help of experienced counselors, become empowered with alternative therapies to better manage anxiety and stress.”

Retreats are designed for both male and female veterans, who participate separately, and couples where one or both individuals are veterans struggling with the effects of service-related trauma. Each retreat session serves up to 16 participants. They follow the challenge-by-choice principle using the adventure-based therapy model, whereby participants are invited to voluntarily join in each of the various activities and challenges. A participant may choose the level of involvement in an activity and this choice is respected by others in the group and the instructors. All participants are encouraged to, at a minimum, be present and encourage others who are performing the activity.

But, most importantly, Melwood fully pays for all participants to attend Operation: Tohidu®, including accommodations and travel. “Campaigns such as ‘Dining for Veterans’ are critical to generating revenue that will help fund the retreats so we can continue to provide this amazing experience for America’s heroes,” said Cari DeSantis, President & CEO of Melwood. “Several years ago, we began searching for ways to increase services for veterans. We knew we could provide job opportunities, but the ability to proactively tackle healing and empowerment through a program such as Operation: Tohidu® was a driving force for us to get it done. We make sure the participants that come through the doors leave with some resources they need to help them reintegrate and thrive in their respective communities.”

The first restaurants to participate in the “Dining for Veterans” campaign include:

  • J’Ollie’s Restaurant, Lanham, MD: June 1. Proceeds will go to the campaign.
  • Pizza Hotline, La Plata, MD location: June 6, July 5, August 8, and September 5. 10% of the proceeds will go to the campaign.
  • Pizza Hotline, Charlotte Hall, MD: June 6, July 5, August 8, and September 5. 10% of the proceeds will go to the campaign.
  • Potbelly Sandwich Shop, National Harbor: July 13 from 5-8pm. 25% of the proceeds will go to the campaign.
  • Noodles & Company, Lanham, MD: June 16, 5-8pm. 25% of the proceeds will go to the campaign.
  • Honey Baked Ham: Visit Honey Baked Ham to purchase a gift card. 20% of the proceeds will go to the campaign. (

For more information about Melwood and to participate in the “Dining for Veterans” program, please visit


About Melwood
Melwood is an AbilityOne non-profit organization, and one of the largest employers of people with differing abilities in the Northeast U.S., with a highly competitive and inclusive workforce – providing a range of services to federal, state and local governments, and the private sector. Using an innovative and effective social entrepreneurial model, Melwood offers job placement, job training, life skills for independence, and support services to more than 2,100 people each year in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, Maryland, and Virginia. We also provide recreation opportunities through seasonal inclusive camp programs for children and adults with and without differing abilities. In addition, Melwood provides employment and support services to veterans and active duty military members coping with a variety of combat-related traumas such as PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and substance abuse. Melwood operates a training program that graduates approximately 100 workers with differing abilities each year, and employs more than 1,300 workers, including nearly 800 persons with differing abilities. Since 1963, the 501(3)(c) organization has envisioned a world in which people with differing abilities are fully included by advocating for and empowering them to transform their own lives through unique opportunities to work and play in the community. For more information visit

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