Is Western Colorado a particularly good place for military veterans to recover from physical, psychological, and spiritual wounds?
Many vets think so, with good reason. That reason is “The Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans”, also known as “Welcome Home, Montrose.” The concept is simple, but the effects can be profound, helping vets to successfully transition from the battlefield to American life.
The organization operates out of the Warrior Resource Center, on E. Main St.
It was the brainchild of founder Melanie Kline, of Montrose. “I want you to know that, eight years in, we as an organization are doing fantastic,” Kline recently told an audience at The Forum. “Veterans in Montrose County have never been better.”
Kline then explained the genesis of the Warrior Resource Center. “When we first started, I had an idea that maybe all the recreation and adventure we have in Montrose County, all that we have here, could be healing for veterans who were having difficulty thriving in their own communities. And, that if we could organize as a community to meet the needs of anyone who had ever served in the military, no matter their disabilities, they could thrive here.”
Eight years of hard work have turned that dream into a reality. “Any time a veteran in need walks in the door, everything stops, and everybody helps—whether they need shelter, or food, or just a place to cry,” Kline said. They still see quite a few vets in need, but the numbers have fallen over the past eight years thanks to the successful partnerships the Warrior Resource Center has formed with various social service agencies and non-profit organizations.
Still, the suicide rate amongst vets remains high, according to the Center’s executive director, Mike Trickey. “It’s still an average of 20 to 22 a day, nationwide.”
Hunger is also a serious problem. “A big issue among a lot of our veterans is ‘where are they going to eat, how will they find food’,” Trickey explained. “Right now, in our community, there are some issues going on with that, and hopefully, they’ll be resolved quickly. But, working with Shepherd’s Hand, we’re able to provide emergency meals as needed.”
In addition to Kline and Trickey, the Center is staffed by April Heard, Admin. Assistant, and Amy Eifling, Volunteer Coordinator.
The Forum meets on Wednesdays, 8-9 am, at CASA headquarters, 147 North Townsend, next to Backstreet Bagels. Coffee is $1 and breakfast items are available at Backstreet.