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A national military charity headquartered in Radcliff has a new man in charge.
Peter L. Giusti, a native of Seneca Falls, N.Y., took over as president of USA Cares early last month, succeeding Bill Nelson, a U.S. Navy veteran and former executive director.
Retired Maj. Gen. John Tindall, chairman of the USA Cares Board of Directors, said the organization received more than 80 resumes, and a five-person search committee narrowed the field to fewer than 20. From there, the pool was whittled to two, both of whom were invited to Radcliff for a tour of the facility and a face-to-face interview.
Tindall said Giusti stood out for his dynamic personality, energy and wealth of experience in the nonprofit sector.
He said he was impressed with the organizations Giusti has worked for and his ability to help each agency grow and expand its mission.
“We hope Peter is going to do the same for USA Cares,” he said.
During the transition, the board modified its organizational structure and changed the name of the role Giusti now holds to better match his duties, Tindall said. But he said Giusti essentially holds the same responsibility and performs the same functions as Nelson.
Giusti said he moved to Radcliff following the July 4 weekend and was interested in working with USA Cares because of its terrific staff and honorable mission of helping veterans and their families meet basic needs.
Prior to taking the position at USA Cares, he served as chief development strategist for AMVETS national headquarters in Lanham, Md. He also has served as chief executive officer of the national offices of the American Foundation for Urologic Disease in Linthicum, Md.; the Scleroderma Foundation in Byfield, Mass.; and the Celebration of Health Foundation in Provo, Utah. In each role, he gained experience in fundraising, volunteering, program services and awareness development, according to USA Cares.
Following college, he went to work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Albany, N.Y., and also worked with the National Arthritis Foundation in Atlanta. Giusti said nonprofit work is his lifesblood and gives him fulfillment because he is making an active difference in others’ lives.
“I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else,” he said.
The job gives Giusti another chance to work directly with veterans. In addition to his years with AMVETS, a national veteran service organization, Giusti’s father was a World War II veteran.
“I want to do something in his memory,” he said.
Tindall said Giusti displays his father’s medals around his office as a reminder of why he does what he does for USA Cares.
“Most of us have some type of skin in the game,” Tindall said of the staff, noting the majority are veterans themselves or have spouses or family who served.
Giusti said the largest challenge he faces in his new position is marketing the organization and its programs to the public. He said Radcliff and the Hardin County area is a premiere community to enact military programs because USA Cares can seek instant feedback from Fort Knox and the number of active veterans nearby. That allows the organization to experiment before pushing a program to a regional or national audience.
“It’s a wonderful test market,” he said.
Nelson set the stage for USA Cares’ evolution, Tindall said. With a reduction in overseas forces, he said, there are lingering effects from post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. The organization has created a program to support military families within a practical capacity while soldiers are seeking resident care and cannot work. Tindall said soldiers often choose to struggle with the illness to take care of their families rather than seek treatment because of the financial hardships of leaving work.
Nelson could not be reached for comment, but Tindall said he stepped aside for personal reasons. As individuals age, Tindall said, they see a need to slow down.
Nelson was not an “8 to 5 guy,” Tindall said, but rather poured his entire being into his work to get the job done since the organization’s inception.
“He took us to a level we needed to be during his tenure,” he said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenews enterprise.com.