Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran Program

About Buddy-to-Buddy

Program Staff


Marcia Valenstein, MD, MS

Dr. Valenstein is a Professor at the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry and a senior research scientist at the VA Health Services Research and Development service and the Serious Mental Illness Treatment Research and Evaluation Center (SMITREC). She has extensive clinical experience treating veterans in the VA health system. She is a national expert on peer-to-peer programs and was a key member in the collaborative Michigan Army National Guard and University development team that conceptualized and implemented the Buddy-to-Buddy program in the Michigan National Guard. Her areas of research focus are medication adherence, depression management strategies, quality of depression care and suicide.

Jane Spinner, MSW, MBA

Jane SpinnerJane Spinner is Project Officer for Strategic Initiatives at the University of Michigan Depression Center and Department of Psychiatry. In this position, she oversees the design, development, and implementation of major projects and initiatives that address the mental health needs of special populations, and helps translate clinical research advances in mental health to those in need in Michigan and nationally. Ms. Spinner has over thirty years of experience in the health care field, with a background as a clinician, health care business executive, and an entrepreneur.  She has specific expertise in strategic marketing planning and center of excellence development for health care systems, physician groups, and corporations.  She is Project Director for the M-SPAN programs and services.

Stephanie Zarb, MA
Program Manager

Stephanie Zarb, MAStephanie Zarb is the Program Manager for the Buddy-to-Buddy Veteran Volunteer Program. She is a native of Redford, Michigan and joined the United States Air Force in 2006. Ms. Zarb has deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and for Counter-Narcotics Missions in South America. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Michigan State University and a Master’s Degree from the University of Oklahoma with a focus in Human Relations. Ms. Zarb’s interests include: veteran outreach, volunteer training and development, improving veterans’ awareness and access to resources, and community outreach. As Program Manager, Stephanie oversees all aspects of the Buddy-to-Buddy Program, including conducting volunteer trainings, recruiting new volunteers, communicating with National Guard leadership, working with community partners,  and supporting the corps of Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veterans who donate their time and expertise to help fellow veterans.

Click here to email Stephanie today.

Beau Nelson, PhD
Program Psychologist

Beau NelsonDr. Nelson serves as the Program Psychologist for M-SPAN’s Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran Program. He facilitates weekly volunteer support calls and provides guidance on mental health issues and emergencies that may occur. He currently holds positions as the Local Recovery Coordinator at the Ann Arbor Veterans Administration Medical Center and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, serving from 1993 through 1997, and participating in Operation Southern Watch.  He received a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and completed his clinical internship at the Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs.  Dr. Nelson has advanced clinical training in psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery approaches to care for individuals with serious mental health diagnoses, and has expertise in peer-led initiatives and services.

Jamie Wright, LMSW
Program Social Worker

Jamie Wright MSPANJamie Wright serves as the social worker for M-SPAN’s Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran Program providing guidance on mental health issues and emergencies. Mr. Wright currently works as a clinical social worker in the Veteran’s Employment and Recovery Center at the Ann Arbor Veterans Administration Medical Center. He is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran of the U.S. Army field artillery, serving from 2002 through 2006 on active duty and 2007-2009 in the U.S Army reserves. Mr. Wright received his MSW from the Smith College School of Social Work in Northampton, Massachusetts, and completed his clinical internship at the Seattle Department of Veterans Affairs PTSD evaluation unit. Mr. Wright has advanced clinical training in psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery approaches to care for individuals with serious mental health diagnoses, and has expertise in peer-led initiatives and services.

Nathan Cross
Outreach Coordinator

Nathan CrossNathan Cross served in the U.S. Army Infantry as a Rifleman, Machine Gunner, Grenadier, and Team Leader in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, earning the Combat Infantryman Badge and two Army Commendation Medals for Leadership. He served five years active duty and then another two years in the Army Reserves. Prior to joining the Buddy-to-Buddy staff, Mr. Cross worked for the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency’s Veterans Resource Service Center and then as a VA work-study program Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Specialist. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in business from Siena Heights University. He was formerly a Buddy-to-Buddy volunteer and trained into the program in September 2016. In this position, Mr. Cross is responsible for implementing a volunteer recruitment plan, identifying and staffing veteran-related events, and reaching out to volunteers to ensure they have the support they need.

Click here to email Nathan today.

Bob Short, MS, MBA
Training Coordinator

Bob ShortBob Short is the Training Coordinator for Buddy-to-Buddy. In this position, Mr. Short conducts new volunteer trainings and is charged with all Buddy One trainings within the MIARNG. Mr. Short also has been a volunteer at the Augusta Armory, providing support to the service members in that armory. Bob served in the U.S. Army as an infantry squad leader in Vietnam. He has over 35 years of experience in Employee Health & Safety, Human Resources, and Maintenance Management in the aluminum and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries. Mr. Short earned his MS from Illinois State University and his MBA from Western Michigan University. Mr. Short also has been a member of American (23rd Infantry) Division Veterans Association for over thirty years. He has served on the Executive Council and as Chairman of the Scholarship Fund for seven years.

Click here to email Bob today.

Margy Howes, MA
Administrative Specialist

Margy-Howes_November-2016_150pwMargy Howes is an Administrative Assistant supporting all programs within M-SPAN. In this position, she processes financial reports, tracks expenses, arranges travel, coordinates special events, keeps records, submits orders, provides support to volunteers, and works collaboratively with other University Departments. In addition, Margy provides administrative support to all M-SPAN program leads, manages the M-SPAN office, and serves as a point of contact for all new M-SPAN employees. She has been in this position since December 2010. Margy is a great contact for volunteers who will be traveling or have questions about reimbursements or travel accommodations!Click here to email Margy today.

Alyssa Wealty, MA
Communications Specialist

Alyssa Wealty, Communications Specialist

Alyssa Wealty is the Communications Specialist for Buddy-to-Buddy and coordinates the various marketing communications activities for it and all M-SPAN programs. As a native of Military City, USA (San Antonio, Texas), veteran spouse, and someone who worked on a military base overseas, Ms. Wealty has a deep appreciation of and connection to service members, their families, and the sacrifices they make for our country. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Communications from St. Mary’s University and a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Marist College and has diverse experience working in marketing communications, particularly for non-profit organizations. She focuses on how to use strategic, targeted communications to increase Buddy-to-Buddy’s reach and connection to the people it serves.

Click here to email Alyssa today.

Cassandra Parks
Administrative Assistant

Cassandra ParksCassandra Parks served ten years in the United States Air Force working in Information Management/Administration. She holds an Associate’s Degree in Humanities and Social Sciences and has extensive administrative and research experience from her time serving and her sixteen years working for the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Ms. Parks is responsible for answering the program’s 1-800 call-in line and working with other staff to coordinate the referrals to volunteers.

Click here to email Cassandra today.

To reach any Buddy-to-Buddy staff member, please e-mail the program or call 1-888-82-BUDDY.