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New tool to help local vets

by Matt Stafford
Nov 13, 2012

"First day I landed we took rockets," remembers Eduardo Baller, an Army veteran that finished his four-year commitment to the Army this summer. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010.

"You can simulate as much as you want, but it doesn't prepare you for the first time."

"You're scared, but you can't really show it," Baller tells News 5. "We just suck it up."
Baller says there's not much time when you're deployed to think about life after the Army.

"It was about making sure that you survived to the next day; honestly I didn't even think I was going to survive until I was 21," Baller admits.

Baller made it home, but when he got back he says the process of getting out of the Army went way too fast; he says he only had a few months to get ready when he should have had a couple of years

"You're pretty much setting up, not for failure, but setting up for being not prepared," says Baller, and he says that's not a good feeling to have.

Baller is not alone. With thousands of military men and women coming back to the United States, Colorado Springs is a one of the communities handling large numbers of them.

According to the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments there are 85,000 current service members and their family members living in El Paso County. Also, there are 78,000 veterans.

Now those veterans have a new tool connecting them with reputable resources in the area. It's called the Peak Military Care Network, and it's beginning with a website to link service members, their families, and veterans to outlets for help.

"It's geared toward those who've served us; we want to make sure this community serves them as well," explains Kate Hatten, executive director of the program.

People like Eduardo have a lot on their minds, but the transition out of the Army isn't all he's thinking about right now.

"She's due any moment now," says Baller, talking about his first daughter that's due this month. He found out about her just a few months before his exit from the Army, and it only gave him more to think about.

"I had to change everything, everything," Baller explains. "I've got to figure it out; I've got to stay here for my daughter, I got to make sure she has everything, I've got to find a place to live, I got to have a consistent job, I want to go to school."

Baller is looking for any help he can get while going after his goals. That's where he's focused right now and he knows this transition is only a bump in the road.

"This is just one chapter of my life; it's not my book, it's just one chapter," says Baller. "I've got hundreds of more pages to write."

To watch the newscast, click here. To connect with the Peak Military Care Network, click here.

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