One Veteran’s Story: Deirdre Rice-Reese

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Most people are familiar with the Veterans Programs staff. From clients and family members to partners and referents, there is at least one contact at each of the programs they know.

In all cases, there is a good chance they have met one other person: Deirdre Rice-Reece, Assistant Vice President of Residential Treatment. Deirdre oversees the Veterans Programs and the residential treatment programs in the Hudson Valley as well as residential admissions. She assures the staff’s ability to respond to the needs of their clients -- from admissions to treatment to recovery. Her work with the programs – and personal connection with the agency’s mission – has been a vital part of their success.

A ball of fire, Deirdre seemingly has a boundless supply of energy. In addition to her AVP responsibilities, she chairs the DEI Committees for Samaritan Daytop Village and InUnity Alliance (formerly NY ASAP). For more than a decade, she has also organized Samaritan Daytop Village’s Women’s History Month event, which moved to a larger venue at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center last year.

Despite her full calendar, Deirdre also enjoys some unofficial roles at the agency. She shows off her dynamic, larger-than-life personality as the in-house “Meeting DJ” and “Event Emcee.” In the latter role, Deirdre takes the stage as Mistress of Ceremonies for the agency’s Black Tie Dinner and Women’s History Month events. Because of her experience in the spotlight, she emceed InUnity Alliance’s Annual Justice, Equity Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Summit.

Deirdre is both a proud veteran of the U.S. Air Force and person in recovery from substance use disorder. She joined the Air Force with her older sister Catherine in 1980. We so enjoyed hearing her story that we wanted to share it with you.


The Brooklyn natives had scored high on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery during high school. Deirdre remembers that, even though she came from a family of military veterans, one of her uncles opposed the idea. At the time, few women and African Americans – especially African American women – voluntarily joined the Armed Forces. Yet, the two sisters wanted a new and exciting way to experience life beyond East New York, Brooklyn. So, they took the road less traveled, and they both joined the Air Force on the same day.

They started their military career together in San Antonio, TX, where they completed basic training. They were also never apart during their 12-week technical training in Denver, CO. The duo chose to focus on Logistics as their trade, which involved managing Air Force supplies globally. After they completed their training, the two sisters began serving on different bases.

Deirdre learned many new skills in the Air Force – such as how to wake herself up before reveille and manage multiple tasks simultaneously. She also became a travel pro, having visited nine countries and 29 states during her tour of duty. Among her most unique locations was the U.S. Army base in the Northwest Territories of Canada where there was only one hour of daylight per day and a town that existed underground.

In all, Deirdre served four years of active duty and two more in active reserve. Her sister Catherine served a total of 12.

 When Deirdre transitioned from military to civilian life, she had difficulty adapting. Her days of rigor and discipline gave way to partying, drug use, and excessive drinking. She eventually sought treatment at Phoenix House where she would start her post-treatment career as an Admissions Counselor.

While working full-time, Deirdre earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, in addition to her CASAC credential. She stayed at Phoenix House for 14 years, where she worked her way up the ranks to VP. She then left the agency to join Samaritan Daytop Village in 2012 as Program Director of the Highbridge Residential Treatment Program in the Bronx. Three years later, she was promoted to AVP.

Deirdre has many accomplishments under her belt, starting with her years in the military. We encourage you to contact her regarding admissions referrals, see her in action at this year’s Black Tie Dinner in October, or come join her as an employee of Samaritan Daytop Village.


If you would like to explore career opportunities with Samaritan Daytop Village, contact our Talent Acquisition team at or visit our website's Careers page for more info.

To refer someone for treatment, visit our Online Admissions page.