The seed for the Veterans Breakfast Club was planted in November 2007, when Dan Cavanaugh, a co-founder of the VBC, volunteered as a bus captain on trips that take veterans to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Dan’s father was a World War II veteran who, toward the end of his life, opened up to his son about his experiences of war. Finding much wisdom in the stories he heard on the bus, Dan hit upon the idea of hosting breakfasts where veterans could gather and share their stories with each other and anyone else who cared to listen.
When Todd DePastino, a professor and writer of history, took an interest in Dan’s project, the two of them founded a non-profit organization to host their storytelling events. Word spread, and more veterans flocked to the monthly breakfasts, anxious to tell their stories and bond with others who served their country, many of whom experienced the emotional trauma of war.
By 2010, the VBC had expanded to monthly events in four locations. As many as 200 attended the South Hills breakfast, and attendance at the other locations–Penn Hills, Moon Township, and North Hills. In 2011, the VBC received 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status and expanded its programs to include region-wide events, such as the Veterans Day breakfast at Duquesne University which drew 600 attendees, and a special VBC trip to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.
In 2012, Kevin Farkas and Todd DePastino created a working partnership between the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative and the Veterans Breakfast Club to preserve and share the voices, images, and experiences of Pittsburgh area veterans of all branches of service and eras.