From serving their country to serving their community: program h - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

From serving their country to serving their community: program helps veterans reintegrate back into society

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NEWMAN LAKE, Wash. -

For so many veterans, the road back to a normal life is a long and difficult one. Even in their own home, they can feel like they don't belong.

But the Veterans Community Response in Spokane is helping those who served adapt.

“Our goal is to help combat veterans reintegrate and find satisfying and productive post-combat lives,” said VCR President, Darrin Coldiron. “When we send people off to battle, that's not the responsibility of the government to make sure our brothers our warriors are coming home. That's the responsibility of the entire community.”

Coldiron took on that task a decade ago after one of his close friends lost his leg from stepping on a mine.

“In the process of helping him rehabilitate and getting him some of the things he needed, I realized there wasn’t much,” said Coldiron. “I actually got asked to do something for combat vets and after researching things about the Spokane Veterans Center I went in there and that's how this whole process began.”

The VCR started with a welcome home celebration in2009 and quickly morphed into multi-day retreats and opportunities to provide service.

In 2015, the group traveled to Central Washington to help communities in Okanogan County recovery and rebuild following the devastating wildfires.

“It’s been rewarding,” said veteran Michael Patterson, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s good to be with vets. It’s part of my healing process as well as there’s.”

As part of their service to the community, the VCR is helping elderly and disabled people create defensible space around their homes in preparation for wildfire season.

“It’s helped me a lot in that it gives me a purpose in life again,” said veteran Chris Mastel, who did two tours in Iraq. “When I joined the service it was all about serving and giving back to the community, and when I got out there was a big disconnect as far as what's next, what am I going to do now?”

The opportunity to serve and experience brotherhood has helped veterans like Patterson and Mastel transition back into society.

If you’d like to learn more about the Veterans Community Response, click here.

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