Vail Daily letter: Vail Veterans Program grateful for support
Vail, CO, Colorado
It is with the deepest gratitude that I write this letter. I have been part of the Vail Veterans Program since its inception in January of 2004. I helped bring wounded veterans to our first event in March of 2004 in support of an idea Cheryl Jensen (long-time Vail resident) had to support our returning injured to Colorado.
That first year we supported nine veterans who were mostly out of Fort Carson. Each of them had their lives changed over a four-day period.
In what was intended to be a single event, we just celebrated our ninth anniversary and are already planning our 10-year event.
We now serve all three military medical centers: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Center For the Intrepid, and National Naval Medical Center Balboa.
In our most recent event, March 5-9, we served our largest group yet with 36, mostly from recent injuries of Army, Marine and Navy in Afghanistan. To date, we have served over 450 severely injured service members, and that number doesn’t include the resilient families who also attend.
The reason we continue this program is because of the great support that those in Vail Valley have provided us. It is you who allow us to continue our mission, whether it is donated goods, services, condominiums, money and precious time. We do it because there is still a need to support this population.
Although this conflict is not always on the forefront of our minds, there is a higher casualty rate in Afghanistan now more than any other time in the 11 years of protracted war.
We do it because we are changing lives.
I talk about changing lives because it is our mission. We bring the newly injured right out of the military medical center and show them what their new independence means. We let them learn the lifetime skill of skiing, and send them back to their treatment with new emphasis and focus.
Some have returned to duty and served again as part of the War on Terror, while some returned to school and have become great citizens, and still others have gone on to be U.S. Paralympians.
Through peer mentorship, we help our veterans set goals and we recover together in a little slice of heaven called Vail.
People of Vail, you have been part of program from the very beginning, and you will always be, whether you know it or not. For that, we thank you and ask for your continued support.
Co-Founder of Vail Veterans Program and U.S. Army officer