Montrose Nonprofit Serves Western Colorado Veterans And Families
On Thursday mornings about 50 veterans meet at the Warrior Resource Center in Montrose.
They come here to have a cup coffee and maybe a donut. But mostly they're here to mingle with others who served in the military.
The veterans here span many generation and many wars. Some served during World War II and Korea. Others fought in Vietnam and the Middle East. And they represent every branch of the military.
David Adams did three tours in Iraq. He retired from the Army in 2007 due to a back injury.
Adams says he tries to come here every week.
"I’m probably one of the youngest veterans in here, but its fun to sit with them and talk with them and listen to their stories and they listen to my stories too," he says.
After coffee Adams sticks around to use one of the center’s other free programs.
"I like to come and go to the group therapy sessions," he says. "And we talk about a lot of things that are more personal stuff that if you don’t want to talk about while drinking coffee with guys you don’t have to. You can go in there and express your feelings and get a little more deeper with an actual social worker."
Adams suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"The group therapy that we do really helps me with the PTSD and it helps me to come in and talk with other vets that have PTSD also," he says. "And, we can share our problems and we come to find out we are not all that different. We have a lot of the same problems even though there’s such an age gap between me and the others."
Arlene Bercier served in the Army and Air Force, but she’s new to the Warrior Resource Center.
Bercier recently moved to the area from Phoenix and wants to get to know fellow veterans.
"The connections that I am making are giving me the opportunity to not only get to know Montrose better but to get a better feel of the community that I’m now living in," she says. "And, I think feel better about being here and not being so isolated."
Bercier also plans on taking advantage of some of the center’s other resources.
"I’ve only been here a couple of months and I need a job," she says. "I will be working with them to help me put together some different resumes."
The Warrior Resource Center is part of Welcome Home Montrose.
Welcome Home Montrose calls itself the first privately funded nonprofit in the country to offer these services to veterans and their families.
Emily Smith is the center’s executive director. Her husband is in the Army. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And in addition to running the place, Smith uses some of its services. She meets with other veterans’ spouses to talk about how tough military marriages can be.
"I think every marriage is difficult," she says. "There’s ups and downs when any two people try to share everything in life. And with veterans they came home very different then how they left.
Smith says she finds security and strength in talking to fellow military spouses.
"I have a place that I can go and ask question," she says. "I have a place to go if I need to cry. I have amazing women that are so strong and I’m grateful to be able to be apart of it."
Although it’s been open only two years, Welcome Home Montrose currently serves about 700 registered veterans.
Smith and an assistant are the center’s only employees. Most of the programs are run by volunteers.
David Adams, the young Iraq war veteran, says he feels fortunate to have center in his community.
"It means a lot to me in the fact that this a volunteer program...and that they’re here to help us veterans," he says. "That’s what they are here for, veterans."