PUEBLO — Pueblo, the Home of Heroes, is getting more resources to help veterans and active-duty military in the community. Mount Carmel Veterans Service Center, a Colorado Springs based organization, is expanding because of an increase in need in Pueblo County.
Their new office is located at St. Mary Corwin Hospital in Suite 156. The office will provide resources and services for the nearly 14,000 veterans who live in Pueblo County.
"I never had those opportunities or the knowledge or resources when I served, or when I was getting out," said Don Mainard, a U.S. Army Veteran from 2000 to 2007 who was medically discharged.
Mainard is now paying it back to other veterans. He's been working for Mount Carmel since the summer and is giving a hand-up for other heroes.
"For me, being a veteran and being able to serve other veterans, and understand what it's like to be in their shoes and what they've been through, means a lot," said Mainard.
The resources will be similar to what is offered at the organization in Colorado Springs. Some of the resources offered include transition and employment, veterans and family resources, and behavioral health and wellness.
Doug Fitzgerald, the community coordinator for the center, said there is a big need for these types of services in Pueblo County, which is why the expansion happened.
"We're going to start seeing a lot of veterans locate to Pueblo County due to the high cost of living in El Paso County. That may be active duty, as well as retired," said Fitzgerald "We've already been seeing a lot of referrals from individuals that have heard we've been here."
Fitzgerald mentioned he used to work for members of Congress and helped a lot of veterans during that time. Now, his job is building partnerships with other non-profits in the community.
"Pueblo County compared to El Paso, there's a much older population of the veterans. So we're speaking about people who served in the Cold War and Vietnam era," said Fitzgerald. "What we're looking forward to is being able to complement the veteran services down here and help veterans and their families as well."
Meanwhile, Mainard mentioned that he's spoken to many veterans who often wished there were similar resources in Pueblo.
"It is difficult for them to get to Colorado Springs because of the distance and some of the difficulties and issues that they are facing," said Mainard. "This definitely opens up a different avenue for veterans that need services or who don't know what services are available to them, or feel like there aren't services because they live in Southern Colorado."
Now the Home of Heroes has a center of their own to let them know they are not alone.
"Hopefully it makes them feel like they're supported and not alone with what they're going through," said Mainard.
The office had a soft opening in November, so it's already serving veterans and active-duty military.
There will be a grand opening celebration happening on Monday, December 13 at the Center for American Values.