After 17 years of combat overseas, Colorado Springs charities and politicians gathered at a giveaway for troops Friday to send a message.
In most of the country, it’s fairly easy to forget that America is still fighting its longest wars. Not here.
“This town gets it,” said El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller, an Air Force veteran.
It would be difficult for Colorado Springs to ignore the wars overseas. With five military bases, 40,000 active-duty troops and more than 80,000 veterans, it is a military community like few others on the planet. It also offers support for troops unmatched elsewhere, said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.
“In this city we have 80 nonprofits that support those who served this nation,” Suthers said.
That support was on full display at the giveaway, spearheaded by the Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center in cooperation with several area charities. More than 400 military families lined up in their cars for a charitable drive-through that saw their trunks and back seats loaded with food, athletic gear, books cleaning supplies and other staples. It was a bounty designed to get a family through a few weeks.
“They served, we can give,” said Mt. Carmel board member Larry Dozier.
It’s the third year for the giveaway, which is timed to coincide with the 9/11 anniversary. Mt. Carmel director Bob McLaughlin says the event has gotten bigger every year as more sponsors line up to help local troops.
Suthers said it’s easy to see why so many businesses and charities are eager to help out.
“There are few causes more worthy,” he said.
Colorado Springs is still very much a city at war. Thousands of Fort Carson troops from two combat brigades and its helicopter brigade are in combat in Afghanistan.
This week, the Army announced that a Fort Carson soldier died in Afghanistan from wounds not associated with combat.
McLaughlin said the charitable effort sends a message to those soldiers and to America’s enemies.
“Seventeen years ago, we were attacked by a vicious enemy,” he said. “What they didn’t count on is our resiliency as a nation.”
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx