Group serves wounded warriors
July 11, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Seven years ago, six people met in a room on the second floor of Army Community Service to discuss the needs of Soldiers wounded in combat. Out of that group has grown the Colorado Injured Military Support Network, a statewide network with an email distribution list of more than 700.
The group's mission is to provide support and services to wounded servicemembers, to help them meet the complex challenges they face as they continue their military careers or transition to civilian life.
"Our initial focus was to at least establish a (safety) net to catch some of those injured veterans who've fallen … through the cracks, but at the same time, there are programs that benefit active duty as well," said Nate Nugin, CIMS co-facilitator and one of the founders, and Family Enrichment Program manager for ACS.
The group celebrated its anniversary June 28 at the Armed Services YMCA. Fort Carson Military Family Life counselors, as well as representatives from ACS, Warrior Family Community Partnership and the garrison attended.
"I understand that this group has been together for seven years now," said Lt. Col. Gregory Hardy, plans and operations officer, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. "To me, that says you're not in it for the thanks. You're in it for the peace and joy that fills your heart … when (you) lose (yourself) in the service of others. … Know that you are making a difference. You're helping individuals. You're helping Families."
The goal of the monthly meetings is to connect different organizations and individuals who serve the military, especially wounded warriors. Sometimes providers may not know all the programs and services that are already available.
"The idea is that, for everybody that has a need, there's probably a program out there that might benefit (them), and, conversely, for every individual, organization or agency that offers services out there, there's probably someone who needs those services," Nugin said.
Over the years, there have been organizations and individuals at CIMS that retrofit vehicles or houses for injured servicemembers, offer counseling services for them and their Families and offer scholarships or educational benefits. Some of the groups involved have been faith-based organizations, some are charitable organizations and others are individual practices.
However, if people come to CIMS with a financial motive, looking to drum up business or find a new source of clients, they are asked to leave.
"That's not the intent. The intent is to reach out and provide services and support to that target population," Nugin said. "If you have a true desire to serve those who serve, and it's not for primarily financial gain, then this is a place that you can come."
The group is informal, without bylaws or officers. Attendees bring their lunches, listen to speakers and have an opportunity to network at the end. People have come to meetings from as far north as Cheyenne, Wyo., and as far south as Durango and Trinidad.
"Lots of folks come, and one of the comments is, 'I've never seen anything quite like this,'" Nugin said. "The longevity of CIMS is really impressive to me, that people continue to come with no expectation beyond finding out about other programs, individuals, organizations, that might be able to fill a need that they can't."
The meetings, at 11 a.m. the last Friday of every month at the Armed Services YMCA, are open to anyone and no registration is needed.
"It's a great program," said Nugin. "The spirit of Fort Carson is at the YMCA every fourth Friday at CIMS."