Submitted by: Donna Bryson
In 2014 I wrote an article for Stars and Stripes about Welcome Home Montrose, a grassroots project to help veterans reintegrate into civilian life.
I had so much in my notebook about this effort that I wrote a book, “Home of the Brave”, which will be released Jan. 26 by Chronos Books. It’s available for pre-order now from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1785356364
In the book, I recount how Montrose jeweler Melanie Kline, who has no military experience or ties, started the project after watching a 2011 CBS Sunday Morning segment on wounded vets learning to kayak.
In just a few years, Kline’s Welcome Home Montrose project, recently renamed the Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans, attracted the support of others in the town of 20,000. Welcome Home hosts a biannual outdoors festival that brings vets from across the country to hunt and fish. It helped the town and surrounding county develop a white water river park they hope will boost local tourism. It organized internships that offered young wounded vets a chance to consider what they would do with the rest of their lives now that they were no longer fit to fight. At its volunteer run drop-in center, vets can get a cup of coffee along with counseling and advice on jobs and training.
Kline built a partnership between civilians and veterans that has energized an entire town and could be a model for other communities.
I'm based in Denver and bolstered the reporting I had begun for Stars and Stripes in 2012 with more visits to Montrose for interviews. I also talked with mental health experts, policy makers and veterans advocates around the country for more insight into what it means for a small town to take on a complex challenge.
About the author:
Donna Bryson was a reporter and editor for The Associated Press from 1986-2012, with assignments in the US, Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Since leaving the AP in 2012 and settling in Colorado with her family, Bryson has freelanced for, among others, the Christian Science Monitor, The Daily Beast and VICE. Her first book, “It’s a Black-White Thing”, about race relations among young South Africans, was published in 2014. “It’s a Black-White Thing” won first place in the nonfiction book category in the National Federation of Press Women 2015 Communications Contest and was shortlisted for the City Press Tafelberg Nonfiction Award, a national South African prize.