COLORADO SPRINGS — The support a community can provide goes a long way for veterans during a tough time. Veterans can seek out that support at Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center, a nonprofit organization in Colorado Springs.
Since opening in 2016, the center has focused on helping veterans transition from military life back into civilian life, and they've helped nearly 35,000 veterans in the community. About 16% of the population in the Pike's Peak region are active military members or veterans.
Monica Ramirez, a local U.S. Army veteran, told News5 the impact the center has on people is life-changing. She said after serving in the military in the '90s, life after wasn't exactly easy.
"Sometimes when you're scared and confused and dealing with a lot of things emotionally and life's struggles, it's kind of hard to know where to start," said Ramirez.
After serving, she started by staying home and raising her three children, when tragedy struck the family.
"My husband at the time, who was also in the military, he got out of the military, and then soon after committed suicide," said Ramirez. "It was a combination of many things, but I know one of the things was the adjustment to civilian life after leaving the military."
Challenging as a veteran herself, grieving because of the loss of her husband, and not knowing where to go for support, she sought the help of the Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center. The organization helped her get on her feet and find a job she's passionate about.
"You used to have this career, that you absolutely loved and thrived in, and then when you get out it's hard to find jobs sometimes that you can translate those skills and experience," said Ramirez. "I know that's what I personally struggled with."
The center also provided support during a rough patch.
"That was life-changing for me and I needed that," said Ramirez. "You feel like family here. They gave me life-long friends and community that wrapped around me emotionally and spiritually."
For Ramirez, the veterans center is a place where she can feel safe, and a place that helped her turn her life around and many others.
"Even after the tragedy that I endured in losing my husband and father to my children, I am in the best place I have ever been in my life," said Ramirez. "I owe much of that to Mt. Carmel and the staff."
If you are a veteran looking for help, MT. Carmel provides assistance with resume building, finding an outfit for a job interview, going back to school, food assistance, medicare services, behavioral healthcare, mortgage and food assistance, health and fitness, networking, and more.
530 Communication Circle
Colorado Springs, CO 80905