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Third annual Veterans' Rendezvous is this Saturday

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By Sandy Barnes

Veterans in need of assistance will have an opportunity to learn about services they can access at the third annual Veterans’ Rendezvous in Conifer on Saturday.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Denver regional office and other state, county and local service and health-care providers will once again offer consultation, information and opportunities for veterans, who can sign up on the spot for VA benefits and services.

“All of these people are interested in helping our guys and gals,” said Susan Brace, a psychotherapist who helped start the event three years ago. “This is a huge community way to tell our vets we appreciate them.”

Experts will be available to register veterans for VA benefits, answer questions regarding those they are receiving, and to provide counseling at the Mobile Vet Center. Free blood screenings and a no-cost breakfast and lunch will also be offered by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12009 and Journey Community Church.

More than 100 veterans came to last year’s rendezvous, said Brace. 

“This year we’re hoping for more,” she said. 

Many veterans living in the Evergreen and Conifer areas have difficulty making the two-hour trip to Denver to apply for benefits and receive medical treatment at the VA hospital, said Brace. And those who do go down the hill often have a six-to eight-hour wait at the hospital.

“So they don’t want to go,” she said. ‘This is a way to make it easier for them.”

Some veterans also return from combat psychologically wounded and are reluctant to reach out for help, Brace added. Some have developed drug and alcohol dependencies that make it difficult to find and keep employment. There are also many homeless veterans, she remarked.

Among the challenges veterans face is post-traumatic stress disorder, which can be a huge issue for many, said Brace.

“If a vet feels like he is in trouble, the VA has in-patient and outpatient services,” she said.

Because the VA is overwhelmed with the number of veterans in need of medical services, outsourcing is starting to happen as an additional way of providing treatment for them, said Brace.

At last year’s event, a returning Desert Shield/Desert Storm veteran received first-time confirmation from the VA that his Gulf War Syndrome claim had been approved and that he would soon begin receiving benefits. 

While the event draws a wide range of veterans from those who served in World War II to the present day, most of those who attend are from the Vietnam era, said Brace.

In addition to talking with the VA service benefit experts and counselors, veterans at the 2012 event were able to visit with representatives from the Colorado Division of Veterans Affairs, Fort Carson’s Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, the Jefferson County Workforce Center and the Mountain Resource Center. This year’s event will offer similar services, said Brace.

Working through the Conifer Rotary Club, Brace founded the Veterans’ Rendezvous with veteran Joe Dix, Kirk Rosa, Brad Myers, Susan Imming and Sharon Schrage of the Mountain Resource Center. 

“We decided we wanted to do something for the vets,” said Brace.

The Veterans’ Rendezvous will be held from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 18 at Conifer Community Park, 11369 S. Foxton Road in Conifer.

 

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.