Our Team

Nijera Wildman

President

She researches different avenues for Veterans so that pertinent information can be gathered to help make a change in their mental health treatment experience. Nijera will also be able to cross reference the research found should any legal issues come to the surface regarding any connections with psychological illness and can review claims while providing essential feedback.

The passion and dedication Nijera has for helping Veterans and their families stem from the fact that not only is she a mother of three, but that she is married to a disabled Veteran as well. She also comes from a military family and is also a certified health caregiver sponsored by the Veterans Affairs Caregivers Program.

Nijera has graduated from Glendale Community College with an A.A degree in Administration of Justice Studies and has successfully obtained a B.S in Administration of Justice Studies with an Emphasis in Human Services degree. Currently, Nijera is a student at GCU in the Master of Clinical Mental Health program with an Emphasis in Trauma.

Our Founders

The founders of Creative Drill Sergeants, Mitch Caviness and Gina Ruggiero are both are 100% disabled Veterans with PTSD, as well as multitudes of service-connected physical injuries and limitations. “We use Expressive Arts to rise above circumstantial adversities to find joy in producing something beautiful as artists. Expression through the arts reignites a passion to embrace the moment, the here and now, as it is all we truly get in life. We live each moment to the fullest through arts expression and want to pass along the blessing of expression through the arts to our veteran families.”

Mitchell Caviness

Former President and Co-founder

As a legally blind 100% disabled Army Veteran my disability doesn’t hinder my creative talent. My artwork is a spiritual expression released in wood, wire, stone and mixed medium sculptures. God blessed me with talent and I want to share that blessing with others. Graduate of ASU with Masters in Art Ed and Bachelors in Fine Art. Graduate of NJCSU with a Bachelors in Studio Arts and Ottawa UniversitY. AZ State Certified Teacher in Art History.

He is a former 101st Airborne Ranger. While in the military, he sustained several injuries that have left him 100% disabled and legally blind. Mitch holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art and art history from the University of New Jersey and a second Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art from Arizona State University. He went on to obtain a Masters in Art Education and Teacher’s Certification from Ottawa University. Mitch brings his tenacity to any engagement. He works as a teacher and sculptor.

Gina Ruggiero

CEO and Co-founder

Artist/Vocalist and Musician. 100% disabled veteran with TBI, PTSD and MST. My personal mission is to help other veterans Live in Solutions and Not Die in Problems to overcome disability adversities through expressive arts to remain active, productive and hopeful in life. Associate Degree focusing on Art and Art History, but am mostly a self-taught artist and CPD accredited in Introductory Expressive Arts Therapy. Shared Hope International Ambassador. Speaker for Eve’s Place Domestic Violence Shelter.

She is an Expressive Arts Instructor who is a 100% disabled veteran with TBI, PTSD, and MST. “My personal mission is to help other veterans Live in Solutions and Not Die in Problems to overcome disability adversities through expressive arts to remain active, productive and hopeful in life.” She graduated North Idaho College with an Associates of Science and an emphasis in Art and Art History. She is a mixed media and graphic artist, a vocalist, and musician with a CPD accreditation in Introductory Expressive Arts Therapy. She serves as a Shared Hope International Ambassador and an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Ambassador. She was a Community Forestry Commissioner for the City of Hayden, Idaho for over 10 years and her community service was award-winning.

Our Board Members

Jane Garcia

She served in the US Army for ten years. After exiting from military service, she became a science educator working at different levels of the k-12 school system. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Psychology with an emphasis in Cognition and Instruction. Her areas of research interest are women veterans’ issues and education.

Life’s Motto: Do the right thing. Do the best you can. Respect the people around you.

Steve Wargo

Steve Wargo owns and runs Arizona based SWAT HD Productions. He works as a Producer, Director and Director of Photography. SWAT is an acronym for Steve Wargo and Team

He is producing a feature film titled Poison Sky with cast members Kevin Sorbo, Glenn Plummer, Trisha Mann-Grant, Arlene Newman-Van Asperen, Tyler Galant and Greg Joseph. Poison Sky is a docudrama that is being shot in three states over a three year timetable. Locations have included Merced, California with a C-130 military cargo plane and a 92′ Luxury Yacht in San Diego Harbor.

Future projects include the hilarious comedy “Trailer Trash”, a crime thriller, “DFA”, and a docudrama titled “Seasons of Night”.

After working as an extra in Used Cars (1979), The Gauntlet (1980) and Cloud Dancer (1980), Wargo became interested in the craft of filmmaking.

Steve Wargo was hired to shoot “Psycho Manor” for Matt Deitch in November 2002 and he shot the action packed, stunt laced western, “The Last Gunfighter” for director Russell Clay in 2003.

In 2004, as Director Tony Topaz neared release of Blood Money, he decided to do a re-shoot of 2 scenes of the film. He opted that he would shoot HD instead of 35mm film and chose Wargo to complete the task. After seeing the quality of the new scenes,he contracted with Wargo to re-shoot over 50% of the movie in HD.

In 2005, he was hired as Director of Photography and Cinematographer for The Hoax, starring Lyn Pyrce, Kathleen Benner and Gene Gansel which is now available on NetFlix. Also in 2005, he was hired in the same capacity on The Controller which went on the STARZ on-demand and then into distribution.

SWAT HD was contracted to produce Romans Road for director Helen Gibson in 2012. Romans Road was chosen best film at the Cancun International Film Festival and is currently released on Amazon Prime and iTunes.

– IMDb Mini Biography 

Catherine Bennett

Secretary/Editor

Our Leadership Team

Steven Doty

Chief Financial Officer

Dr. Franco-Chavez

Holistic Healing Program

She is a graduate of Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ. “Naturopathic Medicine is a unique profession that encompasses treating the patient as an individual while looking toward the entire body for understanding patient health, not just treating the signs and symptoms that a disease may display. While treating the actual cause of illness and patient concern, the entire organism is regarded, this, in turn, minimizes the occurrence of symptoms and healing of the body can take place. Naturopathic physicians emphasize prevention and natural approaches using combined integrative therapies that encompass traditional allopathic medical science models and physiologic understandings while implementing the naturopathic modalities, which include: acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, physical medicine, nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, botanical medicine, mind-body therapy and minor surgery. We use the science behind natural therapeutics with regard to clinical based research design. We are experts in understanding the philosophy of integrative medicine as well as cultivate the practice of diagnosing to not only treat but prevent illness.”

Lyle Dillie

Bloodquartz Studios

He is an Interdisciplinary Artist, Iraqi War Veteran, proud husband, and also the father of three boys. Lyle is currently an adjunct media arts professor at Estrella Mountain Community College teaching Adobe Software in Avondale, AZ. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with an Interdisciplinary Arts Degree at Arizona State University.

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