With the sun beating down and Cheyenne Mountain looming in the west on July 18, over a dozen civic and corporate leaders were immersed in Mountain Post environment.
The diverse group of citizens was visiting Fort Carson as part of a joint effort to help build connections between the Patriot Foundation and Fort Carson and to improve the local community's knowledge, support and awareness of military life and operations.
The Patriot Foundation is an all-volunteer team, founded in 2003, that has raised over $5 million and provided 1,800 scholarships to the children of fallen, wounded, injured or ill service members.
The visit began at 4th Infantry Division Headquarters, where Deputy Commanding General Brig. Gen. Joseph A. Ryan and other speakers addressed the visitors and gave an overview of the post.
The day proceeded with a performance by the 4th Infantry Division Band's rock band, Mile High; a chance to interact with members of the Mounted Color Guard and their horses; a weapon and vehicle demonstration from Soldiers assigned to 299th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team; and a visit to the 10th Special Forces Group compound.
The foundation originated in Fort Bragg and was focused primarily on Airborne, Air Assault, and Special Operations Soldiers. Since then, it has extended its aid to Fort Campbell and Fort Carson Families, with plans to expand to Fort Drum and Fort Stewart.
The foundation donated nearly $40,000 toward scholarships to Fort Carson Families last year.
The visit was led by retired Army Lt. Col. Sperry Redd, the Patriot Foundation vice president for Colorado. On retiring from the military, Redd, a Green Beret, immediately became involved with the foundation in its early stages when its focus was on Special Operations Soldiers.
Redd said that this visit was an opportunity to give leaders in the community a better idea of what Soldiers actually do.
"They get to see the person they're helping behind the uniform," Redd said.
At the core of the Patriot Foundation is the desire to help military Families recover and flourish in spite of the loss or ailments of their servicemember.
Redd said when Families experience a loss, the spouses are fearful of the future, because they may have never been the breadwinner before. However, the Patriot Foundation can offer some peace of mind by providing their children with a scholarship and an education.
"A mother who lost her husband is just trying to keep the household afloat," Redd said. "But then we come in and tell her that her children have a future - that's a silver lining."
Loss is always hard, but it's organizations like the Patriot Foundation that help make it bearable for the people who are affected. Even if a servicemember leaves the rest of us too soon, they can rest
easy knowing that their Family has people in their corner.