In 2014 I wrote an article for Stars and Stripes about Welcome Home Montrose, a grassroots project to help veterans reintegrate into civilian life.
I had so much in my notebook about this effort that I wrote a book, “Home of the Brave”, which will be released Jan. 26 by Chronos Books. It’s available for pre-order now from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1785356364
In the book, I recount how Montrose jeweler Melanie Kline, who has no military experience or ties, started the project after watching a 2011 CBS Sunday Morning segment on wounded vets learning to kayak.
In just a few years, Kline’s Welcome Home Montrose project, recently renamed the Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans, attracted the support of others in the town of 20,000. Welcome Home hosts a biannual outdoors festival that brings vets from across the country to hunt and fish. It helped the town and surrounding county develop a white water river park they hope will boost local tourism. It organized internships that offered young wounded vets a chance to consider what they would do with the rest of their lives now that they were no longer fit to fight. At its volunteer run drop-in center, vets can get a cup of coffee along with counseling and advice on jobs and training.
Kline built a partnership between civilians and veterans that has energized an entire town and could be a model for other communities.
I'm based in Denver and bolstered the reporting I had begun for Stars and Stripes in 2012 with more visits to Montrose for interviews. I also talked with mental health experts, policy makers and veterans advocates around the country for more insight into what it means for a small town to take on a complex challenge.