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Colorado Springs event for veterans focuses on civilian life

November 11, 2017 Updated: November 11, 2017 at 12:39 pm
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Former airman James Brown, morning traffic czar of KKTV, is often asked how he went from the military to television.

"I worked seven days a week for five years," Brown said of his civilian career beginnings.

Brown shared his story as part of Thursday night's Storytellers X panel at veteran-aimed nonprofit Mount Carmel Center of Excellence. Brown was one of six speakers who spoke about their transition from the military to civilian careers.

Storytellers X, hosted by Colorado Springs veterans groups in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, sought to offer alternatives to existing narratives about the lives of veterans.

"We're hoping to change the dialogue from broken and hero, to citizen and community member," says David Francavilla, one of the event's organizers. "These are the types of veterans we don't see."

Panelists worked everywhere from nonprofits to the Denver Broncos.

While experiences differed, the difficulties of transition were a common theme. For Brown, starting a civilian career meant an internship.

"Normally, the interns are 20 years old. I was almost 40," he said.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Steve Best said he didn't know what he wanted to do when he retired, other than that he wanted to work somewhere with a mission that also takes care of its people.

"Is that the kind of environment where I can make a contribution?" he asked.

Best now works for the VA's Cemetery Administration.

"The things we were asked to do in service absolutely carried over," he said.

Best said he is happy that his job allows him to give back to military families.

Daniel Martinez, Mount Carmel's head of employment issues, says the storyteller event fits well into Mount Carmel's mission.

"This shows the community veterans have something to bring. Each one of these individuals is a veteran and active in the community," Martinez said.

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Contact Joe Purtell: 636-0272

Twitter: @joseph_purtell

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