One in Five

The Rand Corporation, in a report issued in 2010, found that one in five veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from either post-traumatic stress or depression.

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Board Members

Jeff Key, President and Founder

Jeff KeyJeff Key is a writer, actor, activist and philanthropist and Iraq War veteran. He received his B.A. in Theatre from the University of Alabama.

In 2000, at the age of 34, he went to Marine Corps boot camp and became a reserve Marine. After the terrorist attacks of 2001, his unit made preparations for activation and in March of 2003, deployed to Eastern Iraq. Two months later, Jeff was flown back to the United States for surgery and because of his concerns about the things he had observed and because of his growing convictions that the coalition's tactics were ineffective in thwarting terrorism, he decided to leave the military.

On March 31, 2004, he went on CNN as Paula Zahn's guest and used the ban on gays in the military to be discharged and to speak out in opposition to the occupation of Iraq. His straight buddies in the Marines had always known that he was gay but said nothing because his commitment to them and to the country was never in question. Jeff kept a journal while in Iraq, which he developed into the award winning and critically acclaimed one-man performance piece, The Eyes of Babylon.

Jeff, as of 2009, is twelve years clean and sober and has worked with hundreds of other alcoholics helping them (and him) stay sober. He is the subject of a Showtime documentary entitled Semper Fi: One Marine's Journey that aired first on that network in June 2007.

He married Adam Nelson on August 4, 2007. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah with their two Labradors, Sydney and Willie.

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Marcus Eriksen

Marcus EriksenMarcus received his Ph.D. in Science Education from University of Southern California in 2003, months before embarking on a 2000-mile, 5-month journey down the Mississippi River on a homemade raft. Marcus recently published his first book, titled “My River Home” (Beacon Press, 2007) chronicling his experience as a marine in the 1991 Gulf War and his Mississippi River experience.

In 2007 he joined the Mehadi Foundation and contributes his time to help the foundation bring fresh water filters to schoolchildren in Iraq. He is also the Director of Program Development for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, studying and lecturing about the plague of plastic waste in our watersheds and in the ocean. His latest adventure sent him rafting across the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii on JUNK, a vessel floating on 15,000 plastic bottles, 30 sailboat masts lashed to form a deck, and a Cessna airplane fuselage as a cabin. The journey, 2,600 miles in 88 days, brought attention to the work of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and the issue of plastic trash filling the world’s oceans.

He also hosts “Commando Weather,” a series of public service announcements about the science of weather, for the Weather Channel. In 2009 he married Anna Cummins. That same year, Marcus and Anna founded Livable Legacy, a future school/museum dedicated to creating a culture of sustainability and teaching social justice and human rights.

Adam Nelson

Adam NelsonAdam served as a production associate for Semper Fi: One Marine’s Journey, a Showtime documentary chronicling the military experience of Mehadi Founder, Jeff Key. Through this effort the human impact of war became more apparent, and Adam was inspired to become an advocate for veterans returning the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Adam joined The Mehadi Foundation in 2007 and has since contributed by helping to start a college scholarship for veterans who are recovering from chemical dependency. He also recently completed an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering and is currently a medical student at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Jennilyn Merten

Jennilyn MertenJennilyn Merten is the producer of The Eyes of Babylon. She is also the co-director/co-producer of the award-winning documentary film Sons of Perdition, purchased by the Oprah Winfrey Network and selected for her debut Documentary Film Club, and an associate producer on the feature-length documentary film First Position, currently in post-production.

Merten is currently directing and producing a feature-length documentary that chronicles her own battle with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease and her journey to meet Michael J. Fox, the man whose humor, gratitude and passion confirm the paradox that a disease can be a gift.

Merten began working in documentary film and theater after leaving behind her PhD work in American Studies. She now runs the start-up production company Semaphore Projects, which pairs private investors with film, theater and art projects in different stages of production. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Mary Stancavage, Secretary/Treasurer

Mary StancavageMary is a founding member of the Mehadi Foundation and spent years working for a Fortune 100 Company. She brings a wealth of administrative and organizational expertise, and non-profit volunteer know-how to this amazing team.

Currently Mary serves as Director of Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society in Los Angeles, also a non-profit ( She teaches meditation classes and is especially honored to be able to teach meditation in rehabs in the LA area. She has also attended several retreats both as participant and as a co-leader hopes to integrate this with the work currently carried out by the Foundation. Mary believes there is tremendous healing power in the retreat format and, with over 23 years in recovery herself, brings much experience to this area in a way that will support the Foundation’s mission.

Mary also has an M.A. in History from UCLA and has spent several years working as an archaeologist in Syria. This gives her first-hand knowledge of the people and the area of the Middle East. She currently lives in Burbank, CA, with Chuck Paxton, her husband of over 20 years and their gaggle of cats. Mary is proud to be associated with a great group of people doing such extraordinary things.

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The Mehadi Foundation takes no political stance and does not wish to engage in any controversy. Our singular focus is to keep attention on the human face of war, and do what we can to help.

The Mehadi Foundation is an IRS-designated 501(c)(3) charity and was founded by Lance Corporal Jeff Key, USMC, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. All donations are 100% tax deductible.


© 2011 The Mehadi Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

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