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How veterans can find help

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By Sandy Barnes

Evergreen veterans Michael Lynch and Nancy Arsenault both say they would like to get the word out that help is available for those who have served in the military.

Both the Department of Veterans Affairs and private organizations such as the American Legion offer assistance to those coping with physical and mental issues, as well as the transition to civilian life.

The American Legion is not just a social club but a source of support for veterans, says Lynch, who belongs to Post 2001 in Evergreen.

Lynch and his family also have attended a Project Sanctuary retreat designed to help military families reconnect and readjust after being separated.

“They focus on the entire family,” he said of the nonprofit group.

Arsenault said she has found the help she needed through the VA.

A place for veterans to begin searching for assistance is through Veterans Services, which has an officer in each county.

“We’re advocates for the vets,” said Charlotte Wytias, Veterans Services officer for Park County. “Their best bet is to talk to a Veterans Services officer.”

“There are lots of different benefits available, from home loans to education aid,” she said.

Because of the heavy demand for services, the VA has created a tiered system that includes private health care providers for which vets are reimbursed, she noted.

In addition to providing help with health care and veterans’ benefits, Veterans Services officers also help homeless veterans find places to live, said Wytias.

Wytias can be reached at 303-816-9498 at her office in Bailey.

The Jefferson County Veterans Services officer is Peter Mortaro, who is based in Golden. He can be reached at 303-271-4205.

Here is a list of government and nonprofit contacts for veterans:

• VA Benefits Regional Office, 155 Van Gordon St.

Lakewood; 800-827-1000; www.benefits.va.gov/denver

• Denver Vet Center, 7465 E. First Ave., Suite B; 303-326-0645

• Denver VA Medical Center, 1055 Clermont St.; 303-399-8020

• Project Sanctuary, Granby; 720-561-9193;  http://projectsanctuary.us

• Evergreen American Legion Post 2001; 303-674-5443; www.legionpost2001.org

• Veteran Combat Call Center: 877-927-8387

• Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-TALK; www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/Veterans