Board of Directors

David Barbush - Chairman and CEO
Stefanie Stark - President

Stefanie joins the Board with the most nonprofit experience one can have. She is currently the Executive Director of Children’s Health Defense. Ms. Stark’s list of accomplishments include current board member of the Vatican Times. In the past she’s held positions in nonprofit that include Development Director, Marketing Director and of course, she’s a champion volunteer.

Emily Dietz -Secretary

New to the Board Secretary position in 2020, Emily earned her Bachelors degree in Business Administration with specialties in Marketing, Advertising and Economics. She is currently the Strategic Planning & Operations Manager at Cause Inspired Media, and is passionate about supporting veterans and their families.

Daniel Bessman - Treasurer
Daniel joins the Board with 20 years of experience building 7 winning teams to solve some of the Navy’s most challenging supply chain and analytics problems. Daniel is the first officer to lead teams to win two national logistics team awards and the first of only two officers to win both Navy League national logistics leadership awards. He serves for his Naval Academy classmate who was once a sailor.
Debbi Lechner

Debbi joins the Board with 20 years of experience leading teams to design & develop digital solutions to solve business problems. In addition, she has traveled the country offering free seminars educating small business owners on how to grow their business online. Debbi grew up in a military family and has a strong appreciation for those who serve.

Kevin Johns

Mr. Johns is new to the Board as of January, 2019. His son Jared was taken by PTSD on 9/11/2018. Mr. Johns provides our Board with a unique perspective on the mission and on what we can do to truly help the families.

Josh McDaniel

Having served in the Navy, Josh retired in March of 2019 and will enter the private sector work force.

Arlen Weintraub
Donald Earl


Pamela J. Barbush – Principal, EPIC Insurance Brokers and Consultants, Harrisburg, PA


Nan Kreamer – Owner, Avenue CFO, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Who’s Committing
Soldier Suicide:


50 + Years Old


23-49 Years Old


New Recruits - 1st Year

Our Two-Phase Approach to the Mission

Phase One: As we are newly minted in late 2017, becoming financially stable while we raise awareness is our mandate.

Phase Two: With the first dollars available, we will gift the first of our veteran suicide.

Our Mission is Simple

Ease or erase the financial burden of the funeral costs after a soldier suicide.

Dave Barbush

Dave Barbush

Executive Director

The son of a Navy veteran, Dave now lives in Jacksonville, Florida – home to three Navy installations. My Dad’s giving heart beats in me and his willingness to take care of others is organic to this cause.  Combining that with the sacrifice that veteran families make has inspired Once a Soldier to make a big difference.

From the Founder:

When I decided to start Once a Soldier, my long term plan was to create a nonprofit the likes of which hadn’t been seen before. We succeeded in two ways. 

First, the cause is unique. There is a plethora of soldier suicide nonprofits, but after looking at the reports, we saw that as a misnomer. Soldier suicide is really veteran suicide as 13 of the 20 suicides a day are done by veterans. 

Secondly, we wanted to be as digital as possible. With finances being our gift to the families to create a silver lining, we wanted to create an easy to scale way of raising funds for the families. We need no employees (at this time) and so our costs are very small. 

After getting to know the families left behind, I’m satisfied that both ways are succeeding and that I will never run out of passion for the cause. Please give what you can and feel good about it.

I would like to thank you for all that you do.  I am truly thankful for your dedication to knowing the problem and trying to make others aware of the tragedy soldiers & their families endure. It has really, really been a hard road.  I wish every day that Cedrick was here and I was the one God called. So sad. 

Helen Taylor

Mother of Cedrick Taylor

This is a great resource for families that are faced with the hardships that come with veteran soldier suicide. 

Kevin Johns

Father of Jerod Johns