An organization that connects veterans and troops to local help through the 2-1-1 phone service is expanding its staff and stepping up its public outreach.
The 5-year-old Peak Military Care Network has banded together 35 nonprofits and care providers to address veteran needs from employment help to mental health care. The group gets about 100 calls a month from the 2-1-1 service and directs veterans to resources and offers follow-up to make sure their needs have been met.
"It's the greatest organization you've never heard of," said Wes Clark, a retired Air Force two-star who has worked with the network since its inception.
The network was founded to address a problem: The region had services for veterans and troops, but there was no easy way to navigate them. The network has steadily grown in the number of veterans it serves and the organizations it has signed on for the service. Still, the Peak Military Care Network is one of the lesser-known military charities in the state.
The network's low profile, though, is changing fast, Executive Director Kate Hatten said.
"We want to do more outreach and capacity building," Hatten said.
The outreach efforts got a boost this year with an $800,000 grant from the United Health Foundation. The network has used the money to add staff and will kick off a series of workshops to help veterans. The first in the series hopes to teach vets about ways to find affordable housing and strategies to keep a roof over their heads.
"We want to get to people before they are in crisis," Hatten said.
The network is looking to grow its financial backing, and Hatten said it will grow to meet the constantly changing needs of the veteran community, which accounts for more than 80,000 residents of the Pikes Peak region.
"As a community, we need to be able to address what the next thing is," Hatten said.