Posted 4:21 PM 6/5/2012 : New facility for group helping vets and brain injury victims
The doors are opening Monday on a new facility for a group serving Colorado veterans dealing with the effects of war, and others with brain injuries.
It's Rocky Mountain Human Services, and they're running a couple of programs out of their new facility at 17 S Weber. One is Homes for all Veterans; it's a statewide program dealing with chronic homelessness amongst vets. That program is government funded. The other is Operation TBI Freedom; they're working with people who have traumatic brain injuries -- military or civilian. This is done through private funding and the services are free.
One local veteran tells News 5 how the program pulled him out of a rut while dealing with a traumatic brain injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"I was the last vehicle in a 54 vehicle convoy," says Army Staff Sgt. (ret.) Bill Montgomery. "There was an insurgent planting the IED as we drove by."
"It went off next to my vehicle (about 15 feet away)," says Montgomery. "I don't really remember anything; everything that I remember is off of my medical records that I've read."
However, that didn't keep Montgomery away from his deployment to Iraq.
"Most people fight to get back out, nobody wants to sit," says Montgomery. He didn't want to be sent home early, so he hid symptoms to get back to work.
Montgomery finished his tour in 2008 and came home, but that was a struggle he wasn't ready for.
"It's hard to readjust when you come back," explains Montgomery. "Your children have changed a lot while you were gone, and you know your wife has changed a lot."
He changed a lot too. When he got home he had trouble leaving his home. Montgomery says to this day it's hard for him to go out into large crowds of people; he says he knows he won't get hurt, but his anxiety level increases quickly. Montgomery has also had trouble speaking; it's taken work with a speech therapist to improve. Other parts of his life needed adjustment as well, like getting back to family life.
"With a brain injury, you're just trying to learn how to function, just life," says Montgomery.
He tried to fix the problems on his own, but he was still having trouble. Eventually Montgomery got involved with Operation TBI Freedom; since then he's taken courses covering areas like marital, parenting, and social skills. He's even helped develop a group called Phoenix; it's for combat veterans to offer support for those recovering from TBI or PTSD. They've outgrown a couple of meeting places, and are happy for the new center for Operation TBI Freedom.
Montgomery has graduated; not healed, but with a new set of skills to handle himself. He sees things getting better.
"We're in the healing phase," Montgomery says about his family.
As for himself, and his struggles with TBI, Montgomery says he has good days and bad, but his recovery is something he's always working on.
"Yeah, this is with me for the rest of my life, but am I going to let it define me as a person or am I going to overcome this?" says Montgomery.
They're cutting the ribbon on the new facility Monday afternoon. Organizers say there is a waiting list for TBI support services, but they say it isn't long and moves quickly. Again, services are free.