Veterans Counseling Veterans is a 501C3 nonprofit, EIN 46-4123917

Meet the Board

President | CEO

Is a Combat Army Veteran, having faithfully and honorably served on active duty in the Army for over 24 years (8 enlisted and 16 Commissioned), including service during Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. He received numerous military awards, including a Bronze Star and 3 Meritorious Service Medals (MSM). After he retired in 2007, he still wanted to continue to serve his fellow veterans, so he rebranded himself by getting a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Troy University. Upon graduation he founded and is the current President/CEO of Veterans Counseling Veterans Inc. Tony is married to Thelma Williams who is a retired Police Detective from Plainfield, NJ.

Tony has received numerous mental health counseling awards including a 2014 National Award “For Social Service” from American Mental Health Counseling Association and won Florida Mental Health Counselor Association(FMHCA) 2015 Poster Award.

Tony serves on many Boards and Councils including the Hillsborough Veterans Council, Florida Mental Health Counselor Association and Suncoast Mental Health Counselor Association’s Military Interest Committees, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay’s Regional Veterans Advisory Council and American Legion Post 5 Veteran Affairs and Rehabilitation Committee Chair.

director of Military Affairs & Services

Dr. Luke McClees is the director of Military Affairs and Services at Saint Leo University. He is responsible for overseeing the success and quality of life for all military, veterans, and their families at Saint Leo University. He also advises the university on changing legislation, and policies that might impact university stakeholders. 

Prior to being the director of Military Affairs and Services at Saint Leo University, he taught, presented, and published for nearly a decade for the College of Education and Veteran Studies Program at Eastern Kentucky University. 

His work in the field of Veterans Studies helped the field grow and become recognized nationally.  He has been involved in every space where academics and military veterans intersect and he is considered a Thought Leader in this area. 

Prior to studying and working in academics, Dr. McClees served as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps with the Third Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. During his enlistment, Dr. McClees served in both mission-oriented and rotational deployments. This included a combat action deployment to help end the genocide during the Kosovo War. His mission deployments included: Operation Assured Response, Operation Quick Response, security operations in Guantanamo, Cuba, and Haiti, Operation Noble Anvil, Operation Shining Hope, and Operation Joint Guardian. 

Brigadier General (R)

She started her career with the Army Reserves in 1975 and began pursuing two career lives that would parallel each other. As a civilian, she attended USF and received several degrees, including bachelor degrees in counseling and behavioral health, a master’s degree in nursing and a doctorate in higher education.
As a member of the military, she attended training all over the world, including a year at Army War College in Pennsylvania.
As both careers began to blossom, Nero found enjoyment in her civilian employment at the Pinellas County Health Department where she served as the Director of Minority Health. During her tenure, the department reviewed data on health disparities in the African-American community. She was also able to research and study the sickle cell disease and its prevalence in minority communities.
“Working there was very rewarding,” Nero said.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. Army she served in Desert Shield/Storm caring for wounded soldiers in Alabama, Tampa and Georgia.
Then in 2002 came the call that would make her a part of history. Her dedication to her military career and commitment to training earned her the rank of Brigadier General. She is the first African-American nurse in the Army Reserves to achieve this honor.  

Doug Smalls, LTC (R) 

Douglas E. Smalls is the Department of Defense  (DoD) Enterprise Voice over Internet Protocol
Services Implementation Lead, serving America’s finest military organizations and agencies at the Joint Enterprise Services Directorate, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Fort Meade, Maryland.

Mr. Smalls, a native New Yorker, enlisted in 1982 as a Finance Specialist, in the U.S. Army. He rosed to the rank of Sergeant and transitioned from enlisted to officer – known in the Army as a Maverick. Mr. Smalls served three plus decades in the United States
Army, and prior to his retirement in 2015, he served in various capacities in the field and in the Pentagon as a Military Police (MP) Officer: Platoon Leader, Installation Provost Marshal, Battalion Adjutant, multiple Company Commands, Deputy Provost Marshal, and Operations Officer. After

graduating from the Materiel Acquisition Management Course, he transitioned from the MP Corps to the Acquisition Corps and served as a Combat Developer, Program Integrator for Navy Interoperability, Officer in Charge of Acquisition Operations, and Assistant Product Manager for, the Joint Interagency and Multinational Interoperability. He served as the Chief of Data Product sand a Department of the Army Systems Coordinator. He deployed to Iraq in support of the Global War on Terrorism as a Communications Liaison Officer. His final assignments were the Deputy Program Manager of the Joint Planning and Execution Services; Deputy Program Manager, DoD Mobility Program; Deputy Chief of Operations, Enterprise Services; and the Enterprise Services Branch Chief, Defense Information Systems Agency Network. He received numerous military awards and decorations for outstanding performance, mission accomplishment, and tireless service to his country and community. He is a Distinguished Military Student and Graduate of John Jay College’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), and an honors graduate, New York City, New York. Mr. Smalls earned two master’s degrees from Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan. He and his wife live in Virginia with their children.

 Tom Cruz, MSG (R)

U.S. Army Master Sergeant with over 25 years of experience in the military.  Tom has been deployed 5 times over his career.

Tom is a suicide survivor. He attempted suicide while serving on active duty. He has dedicated his life to preventing other veterans from dying by suicide. He has been trained and several suicide prevention courses to include assistant suicide   Trained the Trainor, SafeTalk, QPR to name a few.

He is considered by many as a Subject Matter Expert in suicide prevention.