Connecting our Veterans
Weekly Coffee & PTSD Counseling
As of 2017 there were almost 19 million veterans in the U.S., of which, approximately 1.4 million are currently serving active duty tours throughout the world. The job of protecting and defending the entire U.S., our allies, and our strategic interests around the world often comes with a lot of baggage once a soldier’s time has been served. Their baggage isn’t easy to unpack and can require the helping hands of others who have unpacked the same bags before.
It was this need that struck a chord in Melanie Kline of Montrose, inspiring her to found the Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans (WHAV) in 2012. The WHAV is a veterans resource center with the mission of creating “a no barriers community where every veteran of our armed services can thrive in the life they choose” with resources directed at healing the body and spirit of recovering veterans. Now, in its 8th year of operation, WHAV is going strong supporting our veterans across Delta, Montrose, San Miguel, and Ouray counties. And last month, we had the pleasure of being able to sit down with, Mike Trickey, WHAV Executive Director and Vietnam Veteran, who has made it his life’s career to help fellow veterans navigate the difficulties of returning to civilian life.
Mike taught us that many times, the resurfacing of combat memories leaves our veterans with moral injuries above all else. Actions required for survival in the middle of combat zones often go against the values vets are taught.
Frequently, PTSD symptoms stay repressed for years while the stressors of family life and careers consume veterans’ lives. The folks at WHAV have found that repressed PTSD symptoms tend to surface in retirement once family and career demands have gone and vets have time to contemplate past war actions.
As a resource center, the WHAV, exists to connect veterans with the solutions and resources that they need, but too often, won’t ask for. For example, one of their most popular resources is their Weekly Veteran’s Coffee every Thursday from 8-10 a.m. at the Montrose location where between 80-120 veterans gather for their weekly comradery and therapy session. Following this weekly coffee tradition, the WHAV hosts PTSD counselors. Both resources are free of charge.
According to Mike, when it comes to VA benefits, not only are they ever changing, confusing, and massively complicated, there are also many misnomers about VA benefits that just fighting through the inaccuracies is half the struggle. Navigating the VA’s housing, medical, and financial benefits is one of the vital responsibilities that the WHAV is able to offer.
New to their 2019 repertoire, the WHAV started a Music Therapy Program for vets called Freedom Sings USA Colorado. This program is a three-day retreat where veterans meet with country music’s top song writers, like Steve Dean, Don Goodman, and Hunter Girl, to tell them their stories. The writers then compose songs reflective of their stories. With more than 200 attendees this last June, Mike Trickey stated, “Music therapy is the strongest way to convey a vet’s story. Once their story is told, they are often able to release all they have been holding onto”.
Not all WHAV’s resources are strictly for the veterans themselves. One of their most popular programs is Wives of Warriors. This is a once monthly luncheon for wives to interact one-on-one with other wives of deployed soldiers and those navigating the healing process of loved ones who have returned. At this monthly luncheon, wives are able to connect with others who understand the unique stressors their marriages and families are going through. This program reinforces that they are not alone and there are others who know the struggles and care for them and what they are going through.
How you can support these veterans programs
All these programs depend on three main support systems from within our communities including registration, volunteering, and donations. These support systems allow the WHAV to continue to serve veterans and their families.
First, veteran registration with the VA is a necessity regardless of the level of the soldier’s need because the more registered vets in the area, the more resources are made available for veterans that do need help. Secondly, community volunteers are the lifeblood of WHAV. Other than Mike, there is only one other paid employee. Their remaining staff consists of volunteers with a passion and commitment to serve thousands of vets and their families every year. Last and certainly not least, the WHAV is 100% community funded. This is one reason their events are such a vital part of their survival as a resource for vets.
Elevate is proud to be part of a community that works so diligently and passionately for a worthy cause. WHAV is connecting veterans to the resources they need to improve their quality of life. That goal is something we hold near and dear too. It is why we want to connect everyone in our community to better internet- better resources, better access to education, more career opportunities, a better life. We don’t have the pleasure of serving WHAV yet, but we’d sure like to. Help us get there by preregistering your address for service.
Find out more about how to volunteer here - https://www.whafv.org/volunteer.html
Find out more about how to donate here- https://www.whafv.org/donate.html