CEO Update: November
It is hard to believe, but November is almost over! November is the start of the holiday season for so many of us, but it is also a time to be thankful and express gratitude for others. Most importantly November marks the month that we need to be thankful to those past, current and future veterans.
It is easy to take for granted our everyday freedoms and become complacent in the sacrifice of the men and women who have given their life, of those who have fight and those who continue to fight for our liberties and safety. This past November 11th marked Veterans Day, once known as Armistice Day, and it’s important to not only acknowledge these individuals one day per year. As a country, we can do more to support our veterans. But it is particularly important to me as nearly a quarter of all Veterans in the United States – almost 5.2 million people – return home from active military duty to rural communities.
Unfortunately, our veterans, like many non-service urban counterparts suffer from higher poverty rates, higher incidents of chronic disease, fewer practices within reasonable distances to reach and of course, adequate access to mental health. In the most recent issue of the Fall 2016 Journal of The Colorado Health Foundation, Michael Booth highlighted the health barriers faced by Veterans with a focus on the pros and cons of telehealth when treating Veterans.
We have to face the reality of the populations living in rural Colorado – they are our neighbors, friends, families and soldiers. That is why I want to take this opportunity to also highlight how Veterans were honored across rural Colorado this past week and weekend.
In Alamosa, Colorado, The Veterans Organization of Alamosa sponsored the annual Veterans Day Parade on Main Street. The San Luis Valley Big Band extended a personal invitation to active men, women, families, friends and patriotic Americans to join for the evening in their honor. Monta Vista hosted the third Annual Veterans Parade and Tribute on Saturday, following Veterans Day.
Loveland invited surrounding communities and received a recognition from the Department of Veterans Affairs, designating the city as a Regional Site for the observance of Veterans Day.
In Haxtun, Colorado, the Chamber of Commerce declared November 11th “Day of Caring,” and students of the local school and their parents were encouraged to give back to their community in any way they could – supplying trash bags, paper towns, cleaning supplies, removing trash and cleaning up yards. This is just a sampling of the small ways that have a big impact on our Veterans and their communities. We must take care for each other and especially those Veterans who take care of us.
Finally, I want to raise awareness of the resource ARMY OneSource. ARMY OneSource offers programs and services for all branches of the military and for those providers caring for our veterans. We know that in rural Colorado we have a shortage of behavioral health providers with twelve counties that do not have a licensed psychologist or a licensed social worker. This means that we have a huge access issue with only one provider per 6,008 residents. If you are a primary care provider helping to fill the gap please be sure to take advantage of ARMY OneSource’s resources and education, “Treating the Invisible Wounds of War.” If you are a service member or family member of a service member please reach out for assistance, we are thankful for your service.