Wounded Warrior Support Groups Coming Together
FORT CARSON – Project Return2Work (R2W) attends CIMS Meeting
Colorado Injured Military Support (CIMS) is a local networking group of military support organizations. Over the years, the group has grown from six members to nearly fifty. CIMS meets regularly at Fort Carson to discuss ways to better address the special needs of active duty military personnel and veterans.
At the CIMS gathering, introductions by the various service providers were followed by a roundtable discussion focusing on current issues. During the CIMS group meetings, the discussions have helped to surface a variety of collaboration opportunities. For example, Project: Return to Work (R2W) has developed a partnership with Denver Options.
R2W is a non-profit organization providing free vocational rehabilitation and employment services to Americans with disabilities, including injured soldiers returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. R2W has developed a unique system effectively blending advanced technologies with traditional evaluation, training, and job placement services.
Denver Options, another non-profit organization, also supports the disabled and is now referring soldiers injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom to R2W for support.
R2W was represented by its President, Rob Brazell, and two of R2W’s Employment Specialists. The gathering enabled one of R2W’s Employment Specialists to meet Alfreda Johnson, Denver Options’ Care Coordinator, and they quickly bonded, both having served in the Marines. Johnson provided R2W with one hundred and twenty wounded warrior referrals which R2W was actively coaching to get them “back to work, back to life” – the R2W slogan.
During the meeting, the needs of wounded warriors were punctuated by the testimonials of three retired soldiers, all now working for Denver Options. As they shared their personal experiences and the challenges they have overcome, Susan Graham, wife of Major General Mark Graham (Commanding General, Division West, First Army and Fort Carson) found it hard to restrain her emotions. Her son, 2nd Lieutenant Jeff Graham, was killed while serving in Iraq. Helping the soldiers and Marines that have returned from battle, scarred but ready to carry on, is close to her heart.
Mike Meyer, Vice President of Salute American Heroes and Owner of Blackhorse Worldwide, delivered the keynote speech and thanked the soldiers for their service and sacrifice, while commending those who support them in times of need. Brazell and Meyer immediately hit it off, intently discussing methods for their organizations to partner and connect with others to support the wounded warriors in transition. Meyer had previously arranged a free trip for a group of wounded warriors and their families to fly to Orlando, Florida to visit Disneyworld. Brazell later said, “My hat’s off to Mike and generous sponsors such as United Airlines, which provided free air transportation.”
Asked how CIMS helps wounded warrior advocates, one R2W Employment Specialist said, “Connecting with upper level people in these other organizations is key. Partnerships are developing, and now R2W is receiving referrals from other organizations like Denver Options and Salute American Heroes. It’s all about helping these soldiers move on to the next step in their lives. They deserve all the support we can give.”