Vets’ help group in the limelight
Montrose organization gets national exposure on Beck's Blaze Network
Though the Welcome Home Montrose program for veterans is a group still finding its way, their members’ effort to find “dream jobs” for returning injured servicemen and women enjoyed a little national exposure this week from radio and television personality Glenn Beck.
Three members of the Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans, better known as Welcome Home Montrose, had the chance to fly to Texas Tuesday, and appear on Beck’s Internet and cable TV effort, The Blaze, on Wednesday.
Emily Smith, executive director of the group, called it “incredible,” and “quite an experience.”
“We’re such a new organization. And it’s amazing how quickly it picked up, and how successful that it’s been,” Smith said Thursday, a day after the whirlwind trip to Beck’s sprawling new Mercury Radio Arts multimedia production campus near Dallas. “We appreciate the nation taking notice of what we’re doing.”
Smith said she, group founder Melanie Kline, and board member Kirk Hartman made the trip to Texas for the segment, which focused quite a bit on the group’s Dream Job Program.
“It helps veterans who are getting out of the military that have been medically retired and injured in combat, to allow them to try the job of their dreams,” Smith described, adding that the segment included veteran Judi Boyce in the discussion from Wisconsin via Skype.
Vets who recently participated in the pilot phase of the program came to Montrose right out of Walter Reed National Medical Center in Maryland, were assigned mentors, and did a six-month apprenticeship in the job of their dreams. Jobs in the pilot phase included a teacher, an event planner and a horticulturist.
“It allows (injured veterans) to decide, is this really what I want to do? Is this going to be a good fit? Is this something that I can even do now?” Smith said.
“It’s really our community trying to give this gift of opportunity,” she said.
As for the opportunity to be on Beck’s program, Smith said a producer from the show contacted the group and extended an invitation to come to Texas after learning of the program via another media outlet.
Smith said Beck was “very personable, very nice,” and that he seemed passionate about helping promote the program.
“He was really able to see the value that we see in having a community-based, grassroots effort,” Smith said.
“(Glenn) is just one more person that is willing to take our message out to more people, about how easy it is for everybody to support the troops. It doesn’t take you being rich or a business owner or a landlord. Everyone has a piece they can contribute and there’s a way to support the troops besides putting a magnetic ribbon on your car,” Smith said.
The post-pilot Dream Jobs Program is expected to come together later this year, and any injured veterans interested in the opportunity can go the group’s website — welcomehomemontrose.org — and fill out an application. Interviews are expected to happen in November.