One man is training to compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, another is a Medal of Honor recipient who demonstrated exceptional bravery during battle. A third has spent the past 35 years working tirelessly for fellow veterans’ rights and honor. Hearing their stories is a moving experience, but the opportunity to meet these military heroes is quite another. The 3rd annual Rocky Mountain Human Services Gala provided that and more, held during Veterans Day weekend to honor and thank those who have served.

Among the military veterans at the VIP reception (l to r): Medal of Honor recipient and keynote speaker SSG Clint Romesha; Fredia Johnson, RMHS veteran employment program manager; and SPC Justin Cooper

Among the military veterans at the VIP reception (l to r): Medal of Honor recipient and keynote speaker SSG Clint Romesha; Fredia Johnson, RMHS veteran employment program manager; and SPC Justin Cooper

On Saturday, Nov. 8, more than 500 people from all walks of life got together to show their support for RMHS, both emotionally and monetarily. Funds raised were earmarked for expanding the organization’s military and veterans programs—RMHS is the largest Colorado nonprofit serving veterans with wrap-around care.

The evening began with a sunset VIP reception on the penthouse level of the Hyatt Regency DTC. A short program featured awards for Judge David Shakes and Dr. James Schraa for their individual work with RMHS military and veterans programs. Speakers included Annie Davies, director of communications and development; CEO Stephen Block; Dr Erin Wilkinson, director of military and veterans programs; and event co-chair Peter Burg. Other gala co-chairs were Sandy Burg, and Steve and Sharon Binder.

Marlene Siegel checks out a crocheted patriotic throw at the silent auction.

Marlene Siegel checks out a crocheted patriotic throw at the silent auction.

A reception in the atrium was augmented with a spectrum of items up for bid in the silent auction—a live auction with experiential packages was held later in the evening. The dinner program was highlighted by Lt. Col. Dick Merritt (Ret.) receiving the Loyalty Beyond Service Award and John Vaught accepting the Community Partners Award on behalf of the Colorado Bar Association. Dob Bennett, who co-founded Operation TBI Freedom with wife Debbie, spoke about his organization’s successes. After dinner, keynote speaker and Medal of Honor recipient SSG Clinton Romesha had the crowd riveted during his talk.

Rocky Mountain Human Services is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that serves nearly 10,000 individuals, including more than 2,000 professionals and 7,500 Colorado and Wyoming residents through seven distinct programs. In 2012, the organization celebrated its 20th anniversary, changing its name from Denver Options to Rocky Mountain Human Services to reflect the expansion of services throughout Colorado. The organization’s goal is to serve vulnerable populations throughout the Rocky Mountain West.

Currently, RMHS serves:
•Children with developmental delays and disabilities
•Adults with cognitive and intellectual disabilities
•Adults who live with the effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI)
•Military personnel and veterans who return from Iraq and Afghanistan with a TBI
•Veterans in need of employment assistance or who are homeless or in jeopardy of losing their homes
•Families who are striving to break the cycle of poverty
•Professionals who seek to create meaningful employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual challenges
•Professionals who seek to provide the highest quality services for individuals with developmental disabilities

Block writes: “RMHS’s expansion in the military and veteran programs during the last seven years is a natural extension of our work with vulnerable populations, allowing us to create a world of compassion and hope for those whose lives personify our mission of service to others.” For more information about RMHS, go online at: www.RMHumanServices.org, and to learn more about veterans programs, please visit: www.RMHumanServices.org/MVP.