Veterans for Veterans provides vital services

By Mike Hayward
Special to The SUN

The Veterans for Veterans of Archuleta County meet weekly, at 10 a.m. Tuesday, at the Quality Resort.

There are a lot of things going on that affect veterans here in Archuleta County and if you have not attended any of these meetings, you may be unaware, so we have put together a short informational article to give you a perspective of some of these events and key issues that we are championing.

Charles Benway, our readjustment counselor from the Farmington Vet Center, left for a position at the Boulder, Colo., Vet Center back in June. At first, there were no plans to replace Charles; however, with tireless efforts from the Veterans for Veterans, we now have a replacement. Tom Smith replaced Charles, however, he is only coming to Pagosa every other week. For those of you haven’t met Tom, he is a Vietnam veteran (USMC) who, after an eight-year stint at the Albuquerque Vet Center, relocated to Farmington Vet Center, taking over for a retiring therapist in July 1998, and he has been there since. Tom’s mission is to provide readjustment counseling services to qualified veterans and their spouses. On top of Tom’s counseling experience, and even though he is not a Veteran Service Officer (VSO), his 23 years of providing counseling services with vet centers gives him an extensive perspective on VA benefits and health care.

Veterans for Veterans board member Roy Melius, through his contacts with the VA in Washington, D.C., as well as here in Colorado, was successful in getting the VA to add readjustment counseling services here in Archuleta County. The VA will be putting out a Request for Proposal (RFP) within the next week or two, looking for individuals or companies to offer these services to our local veterans. Roy said this would be the first pilot of this nature that the VA has taken on. This is a great win for veterans living here in Archuleta County and the surrounding area. The person responsible for issuing the RFP and eventually choosing the provider will be at our Oct. 1 meeting to talk to local veterans about the services that will be available and when they will be available. I am sure some of the questions our veterans will have, will pertain to how it will affect services being provided by Tom out of the Farmington Vet Center. This meeting happens to be our monthly breakfast meeting, so if you would like to attend the breakfast before the meeting, plan on being at the Quality Resort by 9 a.m.; the meeting will follow at 10.

The Veterans for Veterans are also working with the Pagosa Springs Medical Center and the VA to have our local veterans use the services offered by the hospital instead of traveling long distances to Durango or Albuquerque. Progress is being made on this front, so stay tuned for updates on this and other key efforts.

Veterans for Veterans is a non-profit 501(C) organization and it is only through the generosity of our compassionate donors that the Veterans for Veterans of Archuleta County can offer its support to Archuleta County veterans and their families in times of great stress.

One way you can help support Veterans for Veterans is to attend the upcoming “Dance to Make a Difference” on Oct. 11 at the Ross Aragon Community Center from 6:30 to 10 p.m. and vote for Veterans for Veterans. This event will host eight local nonprofits that make a difference in our community with the Veterans for Veterans being one. The top three nonprofits will each receive a third of the total proceeds from this event, so please attend this awesome event and vote for us so we can continue to provide support for our local veterans.

This story was posted on September 26, 2013.