Category: Families

Season of Giving is here – Mt. Carmel is ready

 

By Ret. Army Col. Bob McLaughlinBob McLaughlin Photo
Chief Operating Officer

We joined the community to kick off the Season of Giving with two important events: a wreath telethon timed ahead of Veterans Day and our annual Operation Turkeys for Troops before Thanksgiving.

The telethon, in partnership with KRDO News Channel 13 and coloradohonor.com, is part of a nationwide effort to place wreaths on the graves of fallen veterans across the nation on Dec. 14. Our team will assist the community with placements at 10 a.m.

As families of the fallen visit local cemeteries to celebrate their cherished veteran over the holidays, a simple holiday wreaths will signal that this grateful community remembers and honors the sacrifice.

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, we continued an important Mt. Carmel Tradition: Operation Turkeys for Troops! With the help of generous donors and sponsors, we provided 1,396 turkeys to families of service members assigned to local military installations, 100 complete Thanksgiving baskets to local Gold Star Families, and an additional 200 baskets to the veteran community.

Heartfelt thanks, smiling faces and deep appreciation was the response from our military and veteran community for the Thanksgiving bounty. While many were honored (or embarrassed) to be recognized for their service, we know others face hidden challenges – food insecurity, employment difficulties, struggles with post-traumatic stress, and more. It was a unique opportunity to highlight Mt. Carmel as the Beacon of Support.

As the Season of Giving continues, collection boxes are in our lobby and ready for Toys for Tots, 4KidzSports and non-perishable food donations to provide a hand-up this holiday season. In 2018, generous donations from community organizations and military, veteran and civic collection efforts made Mt. Carmel the largest Toys for Tots collection site in the Pikes Peak region.

Toys for Tots requests new, unwrapped toys for infants, children and teens. Mt. Carmel is also a collection site for, 4KidzSports, a local non-profit that provides gently-used sports gear to help youth advance their lives through their faith and participation in sports, music, the arts, academics, and leadership training. And, as part of Mt. Carmel’s ongoing efforts, we’re requesting non-perishable food donations to help veterans and their families.

As the nation continues the longest period of sustained combat operations in our history, communities struggle for new ways to support our troops, veterans and families in meaningful ways.

Beyond wreaths and turkeys, we need to re-dedicate ourselves to offer a more impactful hand-up. This means good jobs for veterans and families; easy access to behavioral health and supportive services; and sometimes a listening ear when a veteran is ready to share the story of their service. Providing a hand-up requires a strong grip and these are the muscles required.

At Mt. Carmel, this is our focus each day and we’re thankful to many community partners who serve alongside our staff – all with a servant’s heart.

To all who see this message: if you need our services, or know someone who does, please visit; to future partners and supporters wishing to make a positive and direct impact, please reach out so we may personally introduce you to Mt. Carmel.

On behalf of the entire Mt. Carmel family, we wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving!

Operation TURKEYS FOR TROOPS 2019

Mt. Carmel’s annual holiday tradition, Operation TURKEYS FOR TROOPS, ended in record time Nov. 21 as 200 Thanksgiving Baskets were distributed in less than 30 minutes to members of the military and veteran community with all supplies exhausted before 4 p.m.

Earlier in the day, 100 food baskets were set aside for presentation to Gold Star Families who lost a family member in combat service to the nation, and an additional 1,200 individual turkeys were provided to chaplains and first sergeants for distribution to families on local military installations.

“We’re grateful for the support of generous community partners, donors and volunteers who have ensured Thanksgiving celebrations for 1,500 military and veteran families of the Pikes Peak region. We wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving,” said Retired Army Col. Bob McLaughlin, Mt. Carmel Chief Operating Officer.

This marks the third year Mt. Carmel has conducted Operation TURKEYS FOR TROOPS. Beyond Operation TURKEYS FOR TROOPS, Mt. Carmel and its partners provide food and beverages year-round to returning Soldiers at the Fort Carson Special Events Center.  Mt. Carmel also partners with base chaplains and local organizations supporting military widows and wounded warriors to provide food assistance vouchers and more, as needed, throughout the year.

A hand-up for Danielle

Above: Danielle McCarthy, August 2019

  In 2017, Danielle McCarthy’s son returned home from college to Montrose, Colo., to care for her as she recovered from complications related to a medical procedure. At the time, Danielle was responsible for the care of her husband, Air Force Reserve & Army Veteran David McCarthy, Jr.

Air Force Reserve & Army Veteran David McCarthy, Jr., carries his bride Danielle, across the threshold in 1992.
Air Force Reserve & Army Veteran David McCarthy, Jr., carries his bride Danielle, across the threshold in 1992.

  Tragically, David passed in 2017 from the effects of Gulf-War Syndrome. In the wake of so much personal tragedy, Danielle was forced to sell most family belongings, cash out her last $2,000 of pension, and relocate to Colorado Springs for continued medical care and to rebuild her life.

  In a short time, she launched a new business and now serves on several community boards. However, this past July, despite her best efforts, she was unable to pay her rent and walked through the doors of Mt. Carmel for help. 

   “There are a lot of great organizations that help veterans. But it was nice to walk into Mt. Carmel and just say, ‘I just need this boost up. That’s all I need,’ and I wasn’t made to feel I’d done anything wrong,” said Danielle. “Please understand – it does mean a lot. It is the small, little things that matter. Being back amongst veterans is amazing to me. What you do does make a difference; you made the difference that prevented me and my two sons from being homeless. Thank-you.”

   Following a year of extraordinary medical challenges, Danielle is no longer on portable oxygen. In August she successfully ascended the incline in Colorado Springs, gaining 2,000 feet in elevation in less than a mile at grades from 45 to 65 degrees, to a height of 8,590 feet. Mt. Carmel is grateful for the opportunity to lend a hand-up to Danielle and her children. 

Celebration and Reflection on Family, Service and Sacrifice

by Retired Army Col. Bob McLaughlin, Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center, Chief Operating Officer

The many special dates on the calendar in May brought great celebration and reflection this month. Allow me to highlight just a few.

On May 10, we marked Military Spouse Appreciation Day. The spouses of our military heroes face many unique challenges as they support their service member serving our nation, not the least of which is the hardship of managing and maintaining a career of their own as they transition from one duty station to another.

As the nation enjoys historically low unemployment of less than five percent, our military spouses do not. They face nationwide unemployment of 16 to 24 percent, depending on which survey you read, and underemployment averaging 56 percent. These stats are unacceptable and negatively impact quality of life for military and veteran families. The Mt. Carmel team is doing its part to combat this inequality.

   In partnership with regional ABC affiliate KRDO and the MilHousing Network, we hosted the National MilSpouse Career Summit with live-webcast from Mt. Carmel. The effort was carried via webcast to ABC affiliate pages in 13 cities with large military and veteran communities. The effort featured employers and resources responding to audience questions submitted over social media. Bringing awareness and viable employment options to a wide audience is one positive step we have taken. Video of the informative and inspiring event is posted to our website at veteranscenter.org

As we near Memorial Day, we will pause and take a knee to honor our brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice so we could live free and bountiful lives. With several inspiring community services on that day, please find an appropriate moment to honor all who died in service to our nation.

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Your donation can make a difference in a Veteran’s life today!

Your generosity enables us to provide vital services to veterans and their families through our programs, resources and education. At Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center, we make it easy for military and their families to receive the support and services they need by bringing a broad range of agencies and programming together under one roof.

 

 

 

Katie’s Story: Month of the Military Child

In 1986, Secretary of Defense Casper W. Weinberger decided the sacrifices made by children of military servicemembers deserved special recognition. Throughout April, Mt. Carmel joins the nation in celebrating Month of the Military Child.

Team Member Katie Travis, as an infant, with her mother, Tina, and now retired, Army Special Forces Soldier Rory Travis

As part of our celebration we sat down with Mt. Carmel team member Katie Travis: proud, successful and resilient daughter to retired Army Special Forces Soldier Rory and Tina Travis.

When Katie was 16, Fort Carson became her father’s final Army assignment following a distinguished career. Katie was thrilled to finally have one final place to call home as active-duty service members typically relocate school-age children six to nine times during a career, in addition to family separations related to training and deployments.

“The constant moves the Army required during my childhood were upsetting and unsettling. In hindsight, they made me more culturally-aware as a result,” said Katie. “Our family was continually introduced to new people, cultures and community norms. I used to resent the Army for taking me away from my family and friends. But I grew to appreciate that it afforded me a more extensive worldview.”

Prior to 9/11, Katie’s father deployed often, but rarely with a sense of worry by his children. “My parents protected my sisters and I from the realities of his career. That changed after

Team Member Katie Travis stands in front of a flag inside Mt. Carmel
Team Member Katie Travis

9/11,” said Katie. “It was lonely; Dad was gone for months-long, year-long (and longer) combat deployments.”

The protective childhood bubble she had imagined her Dad’s Army travels would burst as pre-teen Katie gained awareness of Rory’s efforts in America’s longest war.

“My mom, sisters and I were hopeful and grateful for the occasional email, voice mail or phone call from him to say, ‘I’m safe’. The tree, the turkey, the decorations, birthday candles and presents, were always less important in comparison,” said Katie.

Today, Katie’s dad is long-retired and manages the resiliency program at Fort Carson and Katie is in her senior year at CSU-Pueblo. She credits her upbringing and her dad’s current role for influencing her plan to become a social worker.

“Mom and Dad raised me and my sisters to be independent, hardworking and to conduct ourselves with self-confidence and a winning mindset,” said Katie. “I don’t expect things to be handed to me; I work hard for me, for Mt. Carmel and for our clients.”

Today, as a Mt. Carmel Supportive Services case manager, Katie helps clients with a hand-up, often on their worst day.

“I can relate to arriving in a community without a personal network and being far from family. My goal, and that of Mt. Carmel, is to never to be the hand-out, but the hand-up: to provide resources and tools to recover and thrive. My upbringing aligns perfectly – I’m able to mentor clients towards self-empowerment to reverse a negative spiral,” said Katie.

An insider with common understanding of the military and veteran lifestyle gives Katie immediate credibility with clients as she assesses their urgency of need and finds resources to help.

“I’m proud to manage assistance for 40-70 veterans and families at any given time; and proud of the crucial hand-up my team has provided more than 900 clients experiencing various personal crisis,” said Katie.

Donation Form

$
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.

Billing Details

Donation Total: $20 One Time

Your donation can make a difference in a Veteran’s life today!

Your generosity enables us to provide vital services to veterans and their families through our programs, resources and education. At Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center, we make it easy for military and their families to receive the support and services they need by bringing a broad range of agencies and programming together under one roof.