Veteran services

Senator Hickenlooper seeks to expand services for veterans

(COLORADO SPRINGS) – The fight to expand community care for veterans continues in El Paso County. Sen. John Hickenlooper is heading across the state to identify issues affecting veterans, starting with the Mt. Carmel Veteran Service Center in Colorado Springs.

Hickenlooper helped pass the PACT Act in August, which expands access to health care and benefits for veterans suffering the effects of toxic exposure. The head of state said he was not stopping there.

“I believe this will take away a lot of the anxiety for veterans who have to plan their health care and sort out what they can afford and what they can’t afford,” Hickenlooper said.

Hickenlooper celebrated the passing of the PACT Act and is now looking to expand its services by listening directly from the source.

“I feel like a lot of veterans’ issues need to be addressed at the federal level,” said Ken Curtner, senior clinician for military affairs at UCHealth. “Here in the state of Colorado and especially in El Paso County, we take good care of our veterans.”

Hickenlooper said there is still a lot of work to do as local veterans tell him they continue to face challenges accessing behavioral health, employment opportunities, supportive health care, etc Hickenlooper believes moving forward will require bipartisan support.

“I feel like there are 20 to 25 Republicans who want to work together, I think there are 20 to 25 Democrats who are accountable and want to compromise and work through issues,” Hickenlooper explained. .

City leaders said all the support lawmakers need is already here in El Paso County.

“These people are the ones who make this duty station the best military service members will ever have,” said Jessie Kimber, special assistant for military affairs to Mayor John Suthers. “I speak as a retired military service member who used all aspects of their service when I retired.”

Services like Next Chapter, which has just been set up in El Paso County to help all veterans in their transition from active duty.

“We have state grants to help our veterans, there are no out-of-pocket expenses, and these are veterans serving veterans,” Curtner said.

Hickenlooper now returns to the Senate with a full list of remarks from local veterans.