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Phoenix House Celebrates 45 Years

Devon Aragona

Rosanna Scotto, Pete Peterson, Mitch Rosenthal, Tony DiSanto, and Howard Meitiner (Photo: Jonathon Ziegler/PatrickMcMullan.com )

Donald Radar is an American veteran. But this marine is not only a war survivor, he is also a survivor of addiction.

Upon returning from Iraq, VA doctors diagnosed Radar post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) And his addiction to alcohol grew out of control.

"When I returned from Iraq, I had changed...but not for the good," Radar said.

His addiction eventually lead him to a run in with the state police, where Radar says he caught his break. The Suffolk County veteran court's outpatient counselor shared with him the Military Service Program at the Phoenix House.

Radar is just one of the many people that the Phoenix House organization has helped and he shared his story at their annual Triumph For Teens summer party in the Hamptons on Saturday, June 22, 2013.

This year, guests slid on their favorite white ensembles to not only celebrate the summer solstice, but also to support and celebrate the 45th anniversary of Phoenix House and its' founder Dr. Mitch Rosenthal at a private residence in Southampton.

Founded in 1972, the Phoenix House program today is one of the largest not-for-profit substance abuse treatment providers. It has over 120 programs nation wide, with special programs for young adults, mothers with children, individuals with mental health problems, and veterans like Radar.

Programs the Phoenix House offer include assessment and evaluation, detoxification, outpatient and residential programs, sober living residences, after-school and day programs for teens, case management, special women's services, and programs that serve substance abusers with mental health problems.

"Its an organization that not only changes lives but saves lives on a daily basis," Tony Disanto, the DiGa studio and production company co-owner and a Phoenix House board member, said. "Many of these lives, as I have gotten to witness first hand thanks to Mitch, are really young lives."

Disanto expressed how happy he was that there is an organization providing the care and support that helps redirect the lives of so many, of whom are barely in their teens. He is humbled by the work that the organization does, and "feels honored to be apart of something that makes such a difference."

Guests at the party were encouraged to bid at the silent auction that included a spa day at The Plaza Hotel's Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa, tickets to Badgley Mischka's spring 2014 runway show, a Taylor Swift experience that included tickets to her concert in July, an autographed photo, and a variety of other extras, like a David Yurman bracelet, and many other lavish prizes. The proceeds helping support the Phoenix house.

Howard P. Meitiner, the president and chief executive officer of the Phoenix House, businessman Peter G. Peterson, and of course Dr. Rosenthal shared a few remarks about the foundation and the work that it does. But the personal story that Radar shared is what reminded guests of why they were gathered, and the cause that was being supported.

"At Phoenix House, there were other combat veterans to show me the ropes," Radar said. "We veterans were a tight group with the same kind of camaraderie that I had in the corps."

These fellow veterans and the staff at Phoenix house helped teach Radar how to cope with his emotions, his anger, his addiction, and the guilt that he faced for letting down his wife, Cindy, and their son since he had come home.

As a Phoenix House veteran's program graduate, Radar stayed on as an outreach coordinator. Today, he is a case manager working with veterans while going to school to get his counseling credentials, with plans to get a social work degree.

"I am grateful to the Phoenix House for helping me reach recovery... To people like you who help support Phoenix House," Radar said in closing his speech. "But most of all, I'm grateful to Cindy for sticking with me and never loosing faith."

The evening's event helped the cause raise over $285,000.

If you would like more information about the organization, visit PhoenixHouse.org .


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