SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A vital resource for veterans returning from the Middle East could soon be gone. A man in Summit County has single-handedly been helping veterans cope with post traumatic stress disorder, but the financial burden may be too much.
“A lot of it is from personal experience; knowing the trials and tribulations we go through with the VA system,” Tom Torres said.
Torres says it was about six years ago when he got a call from a high-ranking official at Fort Carson asking for help.
“I’m just a veteran, I’m no one special, it came out of my heart and gut and that’s why I’m doing this,” Torres said.
To date he’s offered nearly 600 active and wounded military personnel an opportunity to get away from the base and reconnect with friends and family surrounded by Summit County’s beauty.
“They actually see what they fought for and they interact with a civilian population. They start calming down,” Torres said.
But Torres’s organization, called Forward Operating Base Summit County, has taken a toll on him as well. Just last year he spent $50,000 of his own money to take veterans on trips where they ski, snowmobile, camp or fish.
“That’s out of my retirement and disability. But seeing the eyes — that’s priceless and they need our help.”
Master Sgt. David Acosta has been in the Army nearly 20 years, but his wife says over the past few tours he’s changed.
“This has been like a reconnection,” Yadira Acosta said. “They’re definitely enjoying their dad because they’ve been separated for so long. So many times and I think they really needed it.”
“Somehow, if I’ve got to sell my car, my couch, my furniture to keep funding my program, I will,” Torres said.”I haven’t even scratched the surface yet. We have a lot of men and women down there at Fort Carson that need our help.”
Torres says his program could run out of money by the end of the summer. To make a donation visit the Forward Operating Base Summit County website.