Annie’s Honoring the Brave

It was my first interview with Peak Military Care Network. I was excited because it was with a non-profit and a position practically made for my degree. Even so, I was trying not to get my hopes up because this was probably my fifteenth interview in a job hunt that had been ongoing since late August. It was now late October.

Kate Hatten and Jennifer Wilson sat across from me, perfectly pleasant and amicable. Jennifer asked me if I had any experience planning large-scale events. I nervously played with my rings, knowing full well that being a co-director for Vacation Bible School at my little Lutheran church was not at all a “large-scale event.”

I also knew that honesty, especially in interviews, really is the best policy.

“Well, not exactly,” I replied. “When you say ‘large-scale’…how large do you mean?”

Jennifer smiled, “About 600.”

“Oh! Umm, unfortunately I would have to say I haven’t had experience with something like that. But I’m a fast learner, so I’m sure I’ll be able to catch on pretty quick.”

My first week on the job, with the Honoring the Brave Breakfast about fourteen days away, I learned a whole new meaning of the phrase “catch on.”

That’s the thing about planning fundraisers, events, or special occasions—weeks and months of work goes into program that lasts maybe an hour and a half. And with the fundraiser literally titled “Honoring the Brave,” I felt a moral responsibility to my organization’s clients to represent and honor them through this breakfast.

With meticulous detail, I stared at my computer screen and adjusted, tweaked, and edited flyers, invitations, emails, social media posts, and pamphlets. I asked Jennifer a million questions and clarifications, frantically emailed print shops, fought with our own office printer, drank lots of coffee, and stuffed 67 packets.

I loved every minute of it.

Partially because I’m the kind of person who likes to be creative and enjoys being busy—but mostly because I knew what I was doing was for something special.

To me, it was a service for those who have served. For those who have sacrificed so much. As a civilian, picking up name-tags at Office Depot was my meager attempt at thanking those who had the drive to enlist in the military, or who dutifully serve as a military spouse.

PMCN’s morning on November 22nd started at about 5:30 a.m. The roads hadn’t been plowed much, but we all slid into The Broadmoor parking garage to put on the final touches.  Being the unofficial photographer (don’t worry, we had a professional come in too), I was given the pleasure of walking around the ballroom before the breakfast started. While everyone else was finding their places, getting yummy pastries and chatting—I was capturing moments as unobtrusively as my flash would allow.

During my quiet observations behind the lens, I discovered what the Honoring the Brave Breakfast was all about.

It’s not just people within the military community supporting one another. I mean, it is to an extent and that’s great…but the scope is much wider than that.

You see, it’s really about the Colorado Springs community at large.

It’s PMCN’s 40+ partners, it’s veterans, service members and families, it’s civilians like me—all of us coming together for an hour and a half to lift each other up, connect with one another, and advocate for our fellow man by saying, “Hey! This is important, and its work we need to do more of.”

And so, in this season of gratitude and giving, I’m so very thankful to have attended my first Honoring the Brave Breakfast. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to serve our military men and women. Above everything else, I’m thankful to be a part of this community.

ViewPoints Psychotherapy Services, LLC

 

Contributed by James Garofalo, Founder/Owner – ViewPoints Psychotherapy Services, LLC.

ViewPoints-LogoWelcome to ViewPoints Psychotherapy Services, LLC! We are a new mental/behavioral health practice that thoroughly believes ‘Asking for help is cool!’ Our team of educated, licensed, and passionate professionals receive training in the latest evidence-based treatment modalities and raise the bar high aiming to bridge the gaps in the mental healthcare system by carrying out the full spectrum of services in behavioral health and providing our treatment to children, teens, and adults in the process. Integration and innovation are at the forefront of our practice as we continuously explore new ways to collaborate and partner with the many wonderful organizations in our amazing community.

Founded by Army veteran James Garofalo, ViewPoints Psychotherapy operates as a network of providers that recruits, hires, and then staffs qualified clinicians to fulfill clinical roles not just in the walls of our very own beautiful office space, but on-site in primary care clinics, senior centers, and just about anywhere integrative mental health services are needed in the El Paso county region. More than half of our staff members are either veterans or military spouses who have lived the rigorous military life style themselves, and despite this fact, we expand our services to people from all walks of life, both military and civilian, as we aim to make our services affordable to everyone by accepting many major insurances including Medicaid/Medicare. The future of healthcare is here, and we want you to be a part of it!

https://www.viewpointspsychotherapy.com/  

PMCN Testimony- providing critical resources

Testimony by Bridgett, Spouse of a Reservist 

PMCN is an amazing organization and it has been extremely helpful in providing critical resources to soldiers in need. Going the extra mile does not even begin to encompass how devoted the folks at PMCN are to our military.

My experience with PMCN actually began with a simple interview request in my capacity as a reporter for a local newspaper. During the interview I mentioned that I wished other states had similar support networks, as my husband was a company commander of a reserve unit in Las Vegas and frequently struggled to find the right help for his soldiers.

Imagine my surprise when the PMCN President/CEO, Kate Hatten, emailed me personally not even 24 hours later with resources specific to Las Vegas for my husband! The list she provided was incredibly useful to my husband. He distributed it all the squad leaders in his company and to several soldiers personally. To date, that list has helped soldiers in Utah, Nevada and Arizona find critical resources to help them care for themselves, their families and their extended families. Mrs. Hatten has even emailed me months later with more leads, which is simply amazing and incredibly touching.

As a military wife, I absolutely recommend PMCN for all personnel, including those in leadership positions. It is, hands down, the hardest working, most dedicated organization committed to the support of service members past, present and future.

Who is Peak Military Care Network?

Hi! We are Peak Military Care Network, also known as PMCN. We are a non-profit in the Pikes Peak Region that connects service members, veterans and their families to the highest quality resources provided by our trusted community partners.

So, what does that mean exactly?

pmcn-navigators
PMCN Generalist Navigators, Kelli Kisker, active duty U.S. Army Spouse, and Christian Nunez, U.S. Army Veteran.

PMCN is a call-in, web-based, and walk-in referral service. Active duty service members, members of the National Guard and Reserves, veterans and their families can contact us for any issue or question they may have. PMCN assists individuals with financial struggles, service members transitioning from active duty, children with intellectual or physical disabilities, employment and housing issues, spouse employment, VA benefits and so much more. The PMCN Generalist Navigators listen to the person’s initial need and then connects them to the community agencies they are eligible for and best serve them. Once the initial need is met, the navigators will work with them on any other assistance the community can provide. PMCN looks at the holistic needs of the individual or family to ensure they thrive in our community.

The Peak Military Care NETWORK is made up of 45 partner agencies who are trusted, vetted and low to no cost organizations. These partners receive training on military and veteran culture, behavioral health issues, military, VA, and other community resources in order to better assist service members, veterans and their families. PMCN recognizes that needs and services often overlap, so we have developed a service framework that takes a holistic approach to understanding and meeting the needs of our military and veteran community. Our partners provide a broad range of services to support the whole individual and family. Explore our 45 partners here.

Whether you are in a crisis and need immediate support, or you have questions about our community and what resources are available to you, PMCN will be your guide. Call 719-577-7417 to speak with a navigator or email us at info@pmcn.org.

Learn more about PMCN online: www.pmcn.org

ACP Helps Military Spouses Advance Their Careers

American Corporate Partners (ACP) is a nationwide, nonprofit organization that proudly
assists America’s veterans in their transitions from the military to their next careers.

acpFor more than 10 years, ACP has provided transitioning service members with free,
year-long, customized mentorships with experienced volunteer businessmen and women  across the country. More than 13,000 veterans have completed ACP’s program.

Today, ACP is offering career mentorships to active duty military spouses. Space is limited; applications will be taken on a first come, first served basis.

Whether you have recently moved locations, are considering a new career or starting a
business, ACP has mentors offering their assistance. Our mentors are corporate volunteers with years of experience. ACP can help with career exploration, résumé review, interview preparation, networking, career coaching and overall professional development.

American patriots want to assist you as you develop your career.
Get started today at www.acp-usa.org/mentoring

Forever GI Bill – Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act

The VA implemented 15 more provisions of the Harry W. Colmery Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also referred to as the Forever GI Bill, Wednesday.

Forever GI BillThese provisions, in addition to the 13 implemented since the law was signed less than a year ago, will have an immediate and positive impact on Veterans and their families using VA benefits to pursue their educational goals.

“We are excited to get the word out about implementation of the provisions,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “From the day the Forever GI Bill was signed into law, VA, in collaboration with Veterans service organizations, state approving agencies and school certifying officials, has taken an expansive approach to ensure earned benefits are provided to Veterans in a timely, high-quality and efficient way.”

Some of the provisions that began Aug. 1 include:

  • Recipients of a Purple Heart awarded on or after Sept. 11, 2001, are now eligible for full Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for up to 36 months, if not already entitled.
  • Military and Veteran families who have lost a family member can now reallocate transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
  • Additional Guard and Reserve service now counts toward Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility.
  • Post-9/11 GI Bill students may now receive monthly housing allowance for any days they are not on active duty, rather than having to wait until the next month; and
  • Expansion of the Yellow Ribbon Program, which makes additional funds available for GI Bill students, now covers more students. For more information, visit the Forever GI Bill – Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act page.

More provisions are scheduled related to science, technology, engineering and math benefit extensions; increased benefit levels; a pilot program for high-technology training geared toward “upskilling” Veterans to enter the workforce quickly; and another expansion of the Yellow Ribbon Program, which will be implemented by Aug. 1, 2022.

For more information, visit the Forever GI Bill – Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act page.

Contributed by VA Office of Public Affairs 

“My network is building because I made that phone call”

Channelle is a United States Army Veteran who reached out to Peak Military Care Network (PMCN) not knowing what kind of assistance she needed but knew she was in need of guidance.

IMG_5866“I wasn’t sure if you [PMCN] could even help me. I saw Peak Military Care Network [on a magnet], and I didn’t really know, but maybe they can refer me to someone, because I wasn’t deployed. I was in a long time ago. I don’t even know if they can help me or if it applies to me, but at this point I was desperate. I didn’t know who else to call. It was one of those things where I knew I had to do something and I am really glad I did.”

Channelle spoke with Christian Nunez, PMCN Generalist Navigator, and military veteran.  She told him she didn’t know what she needed or wanted, “but, in the course of one call, Christian was able to unscramble my thoughts, provide great contacts.”

Channelle joined the military in 2003 right after high school, “I wanted to go over and fight after 9/11. I wanted to go and serve my country.” She went to sign up.  She opted to be a Linguist, which meant two years of advanced individual training (AIT) to learn Arabic. “It was during that time that I developed medical issues. So then I went to the next base and had more medical issues, so I never even made it out of AIT. That was really frustrating because I saw all my friends go out and get deployed. Some of them were deployed around the world and were assigned to Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs), some of them were deployed to combat areas, and some of them did not come back. It was tough for the first couple of years. It’s the guilt thing that every soldier deals with, survivor’s guilt.”

Channelle was eventually medically separated from the service, with the help from a supportive company commander in 2006. She is now in a time of her life where she is able to focus on her health and wants to start a career. “I want a career, I can have a career, and I’ve been pushing for a career, so now is the time to figure out what is going on. I got ahold of him (Christian from PMCN), and I told him I don’t know what to do. I need help. I’m confused. I’m lost. I don’t even know what I’m looking for”.

Channelle saw our magnet during a time when she wasn’t receiving the help that she was seeking, “I grabbed the magnet, and I’m like ‘I just need help!'” (She said through tears). “All of the contacts he gave me were spot on. A lot of them in ways that were not expected, but I trusted him and relied on what he said. It worked. If you’re going to go get help, you just do what they say. You have to trust them because they know what they are doing”.

“It doesn’t matter how long it’s been. It doesn’t matter your situation. It’s a perfect starting place because you guys know so many people and so many places and resources, and even if you guys can’t help, you know someone who will.”

“It’s just frustrating to hear veterans say that it doesn’t mean anything to be a veteran and that no one cares, because I know people do. You just have to figure out how to get ahold of people for them to know that you need the help. And that’s kind of what I did with Christian, and he helped me figure out how to get the help. Now, I feel like I have a team of people to help me. My network is building because I made that phone call”.

If you are a service member, veteran or family member looking for assistance from the community, call the PMCN navigation team at 719-577-7417 or email us at info@pmcn.org.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel if you ask for help” – PMCN Testimonial

Laureen and Steve reached out to Peak Military Care Network (PMCN) for assistance with paying their utility bill. They are both veterans: Laureen served in the United States Army, and Steve served in the United States Marine Corps.

Laureen and SteveSteve is a combat veteran, drafted in November of 1971 and was discharged in 1975. Steve mentioned he is a very prideful man “and to reach out for help is real hard.”  He retired from the workforce early due to physical conditions and is on a fixed income, receiving social security with no other benefits. His wife, Laureen, is currently job searching. With her Bachelor’s in social work and starting her Master’s, she is hoping to continue to network with people she knows in the community to find something to help with the budget. “We were struggling. We had extra family members [move in with us], we had people who were renting from us who have had trouble paying us, and we needed help with our utility bill. Being a veteran and my husband being a veteran, we wanted to come here and see if you guys [could] help us.” Laureen found out about PMCN through calling 2-1-1.

“I have something that has [been] lifted off my shoulders, and I see a light at the end of the tunnel to where I can visualize that things are going to be okay,” said Steve. When asked what he would say to another veteran who may be struggling he responded, “If they are anything like me they probably wouldn’t ask for help, but if they do then I would have to recommend your organization.”

Laureen expressed that no one should be afraid to ask for help, “I am grateful and blessed that we live in a place here where there are so many different organizations and that you can reach out. A lot of times it’s not just one time that you have to reach out, it’s a couple different times that you have to, to get a sense of stability.”

Steve said he knows that PMCN is a network, and so if someone reached out for help, PMCN can find assistance out there for them. “Reach out and ask for the help. It’s the only way it’s going to work. There is light at the end of the tunnel if you ask for help.”

 

If you are a service member, veteran or family member looking for resources from the community, reach out to Peak Military Care Network (PMCN) at 719-577-7417 or info@pmcn.org.

Visit www.pmcn.org to learn more.

The Sturm Center: Improving the Quality of Life and Behavioral Health of Veterans, Service members and their Families

Contributed by Scotty Hanley, M.A. & Dani Hamilton, M.A.

The Sturm Center, a University of Denver student-operated clinic for military members, Veterans, and their families, has been open for almost two years and is centrally located in Aurora, Colorado. The Sturm Center is a behavioral health clinic that offers a full range of behavioral health needs with a sole focus on the Military/Veteran population. The graduate students who conduct assessment and treatment of clients at The Sturm Center are doctoral-level students who are supervised by licensed Clinical Psychologists with extensive experience with this population.

Sturm Center 2.jpgNew visitors will notice the simple beauty and aesthetics of the clinical space. This includes individual therapy rooms, a designated children’s room, a waiting area, as well as a spacious group room that can comfortably accommodate team building, yoga classes, or family therapy. The space is neat, crisp, and decorated with military-related artwork. Natural light pours through the westward facing windows which showcase beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains. This clinic has been designed to create a space that allows for relaxation, recovery and a sense of community. The space is set up to accommodate the majority of behavioral health services required by our Servicemembers, Veterans, or their family members. Within the space, the clinic offers:

  • Psychological Assessment (for academic/employment accommodations, objective medical evidence for disability claims, diagnostic and/or treatment purposes)
  • Psychological Treatment (all ages, evidence-based, individual, family/couples & group)
  • Referral to Complementary Medicine resources (equine therapy, yoga, outdoor therapy)

A client’s ability to receive services does not hinge on discharge status, combat service, era of service or activation/drill status. Veterans are not required to provide their DD214, though a copy will be added to the client’s record if they have this readily accessible. Additionally, an individual’s income, diagnosis or identity will not influence the quality or quantity of services available to them.

Potential clients can easily seek services at the Sturm Center by calling in for an initial phone screen at (303)-871-7942.  If the client decides they want to proceed and the clinic seems to be appropriate for the client’s needs, the Veteran, Service member or family member completes several consultation sessions with their newly assigned provider.  After these consultation sessions, client(s) receive any relevant assessment and treatment; through a process designed with the specific individual client in mind, assessment and treatment options are discussed thoroughly and openly to allow for the most informed choice by the client.

Sturm CenterThe creation of The Sturm Center came after a generous gift by The Sturm Family Foundation in 2015 to the Graduate School of Professional Psychology. Because of this partnership, The University of Denver was able to expand its top-ranked clinical psychology training program and create a new learning opportunity for graduate students. Given the need for highly-trained, culturally and scientifically competent healthcare providers, The Sturm Center allows students to apply their classroom training to hands-on learning scenarios within this clinic while simultaneously delivering closely-monitored, confidential, high-quality, evidence-based services to Military/Veterans and their families. Some of the graduate students at The Sturm Center are Service members, family members, and/or Veterans of the U.S. and other nations’ militaries. The common thread amongst all students operating The Sturm Center is the dedication to contributing to the active duty, guard/reserve, veteran, and military family communities.

The Sturm Center would like to thank Veterans, Servicemembers, and their families for their dedication, heart, and commitment to our country. We would like to thank you for all that you have sacrificed; it does not go unnoticed. We are happy to give back to the military community with our sincerest respect and commitment. The Sturm Center and The Graduate School of Professional Psychology are proud to train future Clinical Psychologists to increase the quality of life and enhance the health of Military/Veteran communities.

The Sturm Center address is 10730 E. Bethany Drive, Ste. 395; Aurora, CO 80014. 

Please see our website at: https://www.du.edu/gspp/services/sturm/index.html.

Feel free to contact us at (303)-871-7942 with any questions, concerns, referrals or requests for services.

Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center- Meeting the Needs of Southern Colorado for 36 Years

Contributed by Melissa Anthony, Development Coordinator, Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center
Msision: Utilizing the unique and therapeutic attributes of the horse, the mission of Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center is to serve those with diverse needs, empower change,foster resilience, and nurture whole health through sustainable and innovative programs.

PPTRCPikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center (PPTRC), a 501(3)C nonprofit organization, is a community of individuals dedicated to providing equine assisted therapeutic services to those with a varied set of disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, amputation, paralysis, post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, and others. PPTRC offers services to children, seniors, service members and veterans in two locations: Latigo Trails Equestrian Center located just east of Colorado Springs, CO and PPTRC’s Dom Cimino Center at Norris Penrose located in Colorado Springs proper. The experiential equine assisted services provided are designed to meet the unique needs of each individual. With an understanding of the stigmas sometimes associated with disabilities, our team collaborates to provide a nurturing environment that is centered on client engagement and inclusion.

“I get on a horse and I’m back to having my freedom. When someone sees me on a horse they don’t see me as a disabled person, they see me as an equestrian.” PPTRC Client

Central to successful outcomes is the building of trusting relationships between the client, PPTRC specially trained and certified staff and the therapy horse. Therapies promote hope, healing, empowerment and improved self-sufficiency impacting clients both physically and emotionally. As an emerging treatment modality, Equine Assisted Activities and Therapy are increasingly recognized as a valuable and truly unique option for those who may not have experienced desired results in traditional therapies.

“PPTRC and their equine therapy program for military personnel are what finally helped me break the downward spiral of PTSD.” PPTRC client

Since 2000, Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center has held the distinction of being the only Premier Accredited Center in the region with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH). This voluntarily obtained designation ensures that PPTRC continually provides only the highest levels of quality and safety to each client served.

5 Reasons Why Equine Assisted Services Impact Lives:

1. The inclusion of the horse, along with evidence-based therapeutic theories and practices, helps remove the stigma surrounding traditional mental health therapy.
2. Horses reproduce the natural walking motion of a human being, and are able to reintegrate and resequence the neurological inputs to an individual lacking them.
3. Horses are intuitive and reflective of human behavior, and react to clients’ moods and feelings.
4. Working with a horse teaches self awareness, and promotes the idea of being focused and present in the moment.
5. Veterans find horses easily relatable because they operate on a fight-or-flight instinct, similar to those addressing PTSD.

Since its inception in 1981, PPTRC has continued to grow and evolve in response to the changing needs of the community. Through partnerships with medical professionals, hospitals and mental health facilities, PPTRC has answered the call to service. Initially a small organization offering assisted riding lessons that supported those with rehabilitative needs, PPTRC has expanded services provided to encompass many varied needs and address numerous physical and mental health challenges. PPTRC remains committed to serving those in need and continues to foster a culture of innovation as an industry leader.

Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center Programs:

HippotherapyHippotherapy
Derived from the Greek “hippo”, this therapy encompasses physical, occupational, or speech therapy that is part of an integrated treatment plan to achieved targeted outcomes. Led by a specially trained and licensed physical, speech or occupational therapist, this therapy utilizes the three-dimensional movement of the horse to influence the rider physically and neurologically. Hippotherapy increases core strength, muscle memory, flexibility, balance, independence, cognitive abilities and more.

Theraputic RidingTherapeutic Riding
This is an adaptive horseback riding lesson taught by a certified therapeutic riding instructor to increase the cognitive, physical and emotional well-being of the rider. Riders learn to influence the actions of the horse in a manner that addresses physical, emotional and cognitive needs. Activities performed from horseback are included to both engage the client and address needs.

Equine Assisted therapyEquine Assisted Therapy
This mental health therapy allows participants to learn to honestly assess their own emotions and behaviors to improve interactions with the horse. Through this engagement, the client learns social and relationship skills. Licensed mental health therapists help clients translate the skills learned working with therapy horses into everyday life and interactions.

As a member of the R4 Alliance, PPTRC proudly works to maximize the potential of our military families by addressing the physical and invisible emotional scars our veterans bear, as well as the various needs of military families. Countless breakthroughs have occurred as a result of the remarkable relationships that have developed between clients and therapy horses.

**UPDATE:

Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center (PPTRC) is offering an Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) group for those with TRICARE coverage at our Dom Cimino Center at Norris Penrose Event Center. In EAT, we work with horses and use groundwork and horsemanship activities specifically to increase self-awareness and re-pattern any maladaptive behaviors, feelings and attitudes. In relationships and families, this allows for clearer communication, a strengthening of bonds, and overall resilience through life’s ups and downs. Registration is required and space is limited- please contact Chester DeAngelis at deangelis@pptrc.org or 719-495-3908 for more details.

For more information about Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center, services provided, or to volunteer, visit our website at: PPTRC.org