The city of Montrose, Colorado has made it its mission to become the most “veteran-friendly” city in America, and its residents are encouraging others to follow in their footsteps.
“Take a look at what we’re doing, and understand that it’s not rocket science,” Melanie Kline, the founder and president of Welcome Home Montrose urged Americans on The Glenn Beck Program Wednesday. “Something just like what we’re doing could happen easily in [your] community.”
Kline said Welcome Home Montrose is facilitating a bridge “for those who are leaving military life and entering civilian life, so that they can be more successful and have an opportunity to thrive.”
Among the programs they have created is a “dream jobs” program, where Kline said veterans can spend six months with an expert in the field they wish to pursue.
“Try it. Live it for six months with someone whose life is that career,” Kline said, describing the program. “Follow them around … see if you’re really going to like it before you spend your GI Bill, before you sit down in a classroom [with people] who don’t have anything in common with you, or know where you’ve been.”
Kirk Hartman, a board member of Welcome Home Montrose and a local business owner, added that many of the men who are returning from the battlefield joined the military as “kids,” and don’t know what they want to do when they get out.
“But if you give them a chance to explore a few avenues, they can start getting in their head what it is they want to do for the rest of their lives,” Hartman remarked. “And it’s very rewarding to see this kind of thing happen.”
Veteran Judi Boyce participated in the dream jobs program, and shared her experience on The Glenn Beck Program:
Montrose, a city of roughly 20,000 people, is not taking any money from the government for the venture. In fact, Hartman remarked, they turned down a $1 million donation because they believe it is important for the whole community to be involved and engaged with the effort.
“It’s a more personal buy-in,” he explained. “It’s more of an ownership of the obligation to take care of our vets, and to say thank your service and putting your lives on the line for us.”
“It doesn’t cost a lot of money, that’s the beauty of it,” Kline added. “The message I’d like to get across today is what we’re doing in our community, any community could do.”
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