Gen. William Shelton: Colorado Springs military Home Front Cares picks up government slack

By Tom Roeder Updated: October 27, 2013 at 4:15 pm • Published: October 27, 2013 | 12:00 am 0

A Colorado Springs military charity raked in $57,000 at an October gala.

And the keynote speaker for The Home Front Cares dinner, Air Force Gen. William Shelton, says they'll need every dime.

"As great as the needs are today, I'm going to predict that it will be more widespread in the future," Shelton told a crowd of 700 gathered at The Broadmoor for the Oct. 17 fundraiser that marked the charity's 10th anniversary.

Shelton, who heads Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, says the charity will have to pick up slack for the federal government, which will shed hundreds of military jobs in the coming years as wars end and budgets trim.

Shelton said Space Command is working to determine how it will deal with steep cuts that will carve roughly $1 billion per year from its coffers through 2023.

"Frankly, I'm out of tricks," Shelton said. "We're going to be OK in 2014, but 2015 looks very, very bad."

The Army is planning to trim its ranks by 80,000 soldiers through 2018, and other services will likely follow suit.

The cuts come as America emerges from 12 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The last U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

"When military members return home, the stresses don't cease," Shelton said.

The Home Front Cares, which began as a charity to help the families of deployed troops from the Pikes Peak region, is changing with the times. It is now aimed at veterans, who make up 96 percent of its clients.

Unchanged is Home Front's mission. The charity provides direct one-time support to help with critical needs including housing, utilities and transportation.

Last year, the charity helped 358 people.

"We want you to know we'll be here for a long time to come - as long as we're needed," said Home Front's chairman, Tom Daschbach.

The demands on Home Front are growing - it expects increases of 10 percent or more a year.

"The Home Front Cares is on the right track, but we do have some challenges financially," Daschbach said.

At the same time, the charity is looking to expand its reach by working with Denver-area veterans.

The charity's executive director, April Speake, said by helping veterans manage their lives, The Home Front Cares is saving lives.

"Hope can buy a day, it can buy a week, it can buy a life," she said.

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