The contrast between their hometowns and Montrose struck veteran Julie Hallisey and many of her fellow Mission: No Barriers participants.
“I think what they’re doing for the community and for the veterans is absolutely wonderful,” she said July 24, as she, Julia Bozovich, Shannon Miller and Amy Langfield sat down at a community potluck held in honor of them, and Montrose veteran and MNB participant Carole McBurney at the Warrior Resource Center.
“Where I come from isn’t as welcoming, accepting and helpful to veterans. To see everyone come together like this, it’s just amazing,” Hallisey said.
“It’s great. We don’t have anything remotely close to this,” Bozovich said. “The (Montrose) community is pro-military. I felt like I walked off the plane and I was royalty.”
Local real estate agents teamed up to greet the women who flew in for Mission: No Barriers at the airport and transport them to the Double Diamond Ranch, where veteran Tim Kinney hosted them. The week before, Kinney, Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans and multiple other individuals and organizations also hosted male veterans for Mission: No Barriers.
The event brings veterans to Montrose for a week of outdoor and other activities, to thank them for their service and to showcase the community as one worth moving to.
The women spent the week scuba diving at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool, fishing, and doing other outdoor-oriented activities, plus on Thursday, drove heavy equipment at Western Gravel. The gravel company was also the site of a “pinup girl” photo shoot, featuring the women and other veterans, for a calendar that will be sold to fund future Missions: No Barrier events.
Today, the women were set to enjoy metal detecting with the Uncompahgre Treasure Club and a farewell cookout tonight.
“What we’re trying to do is say, we love that you served; we live in a great place and you should think about how great it is to be here, move here, visit here, and come back,” said Melanie Kline, who founded what is now known as Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans and its Warrior Resource Center.
“This is outstanding,” McBurney said at Wednesday’s dinner. “It’s good to be around other people. It’s good to get out and be in the public, which is never an easy thing.”
McBurney has lived in Montrose for 27 years. She served in the Air Force from 1988-1996 on a transport unit and was stationed in Clovis, New Mexico.
Welcome Home’s April Heard and Amy Eifling had encouraged her to come to the Warrior Resource Center, and also to participate in MNB, she said.
The other women all served in the Army together in Iraq, guarding such “high-value detainees” as Chemical Ali as part of 443rd Co.’s duties.
The veterans, from Pennsylvania, laughed and pointed to their “ringleader,” Bozovich, when asked why they chose to be part of MNB. Hallisey said Bozovich learned about the event from her husband, after the man met Eifling on a Project Healing Waters event. He told Bozovich; Bozovich spread the word.
“It’s just sounded like a good time to interact with other veterans we never would have met,” Miller said.
“This is amazing,” Langfield said. “The support, the thought that has gone into it, is amazing.”
Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.