Who wouldn’t take the opportunity to enjoy the summer weather, eat well and celebrate our nation’s heroes? On August 12, those in the Montrose area have the chance to do just that.
Each August for the past five years, Montrose’s Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans (WHAFV) has hosted the Patriot Picnic, an event that pays tribute to local veterans and the people who support them as they re adjust to civilian life. The picnic is also a way for the WHAFV to say thank you to Montrose and the surrounding Western Slope communities that have played a vital role in its success.
The picnic is free to attend, and is held each year at Bob Koch’s home. The scenic location has walking paths that lead to the river and a number of fishing ponds. Paul Chamberlain will perform live music, and there will be plenty of soft drinks and food. Local civic leaders are expected to attend.
The Patriot Picnic was designed to enable local vets to openly embrace their home community, and to give citizens the opportunity to meet and learn more about their hometown heroes. It’s also a way to familiarize civilians with the work and objectives of WHAFV.
Many local businesses support the center, including Delta’s Callaway Meats, which will providing the meat for the upcoming picnic. But despite these community connections, extensive public relations efforts and other outreach, including posters and internet appeals, the WHAFV is not as well-known in town as it should be.
Gary Gratton, the local Disabled American Veterans chapter commander, said it hurts to hear people say, “I didn’t even know [it] existed!”
More than 1,400 veterans are registered with the alliance, representing soldiers from every war since World War II and every branch of the Armed Forces. They meet on a regular basis to share the experiences as well as their challenges and success in adapting to life at home. On any given Thursday morning, 90-120 veterans visit the Warrior Resource Center (WRC), WHAFV headquarters for coffee and meetings.
WHAFV is a safe place for veterans, providing a positive and healthy opportunity for social reinegration, said WRC Manager Nate Allen.
The WRC hosts ongoing peer support and social networking opportunities, as well as recognition events. Housing and food assistance, as well as Veterans Affairs benefits and counseling are available at the center.
Public attendance at the Patriot Picnic makes local support visible, while reinforcing the self-esteem and goodwill of those who have so valiantly served the nation.
The Patriot Picnic
August 12, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
14468 Arabian Ct., Montrose
Bring lawn chairs. Although not required, attendees may bring a dish to share. For more information about this year’s picnic, call the Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans at 765-2210.