Appreciating Our Military Spouses

May is Military Spouse Appreciation month, and so here at HFMN, we’d like to offer up programs, services, and resources within our Partner Agency Network that aim to help the military and veteran spouses/caregivers of our community.

Military spouses serve just as much, albeit in different ways, as our service members, they literally “hold down the fort” while their spouse is deployed or away for training.

One consistent challenge for military spouses is maintaining employment, licensure, or schooling because of the numerous relocations military life requires. According to Military OneSource, 35% active-duty spouses who have experienced a PCS (Permanent Change of Station) move indicated it took 7 months or more to find employment after their most recent move.

The following articles are contributed by our partners at Onward to Opportunity and The Resource Exchange. They offer valuable services to our military and veteran community many that are specifically tailored toward military spouses.  We are proud to partner with them and grateful for their tremendous impact.


The Onward to Opportunity Continues Dedicated Service to Transitioning Service Members, Veterans and Military Spouses in Colorado.

Syracuse University has a long history of dedication and service to veterans and their families beginning with Chancellor Tolley’s involvement in the passing of the GI Bill of Rights. Since then, Syracuse University has committed itself to be the “Best Place for Veterans™.” The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) was founded at Syracuse University and is headquartered on their campus, completing an IVMF program also makes participants a Syracuse University alum!

One of the integral offerings through the IVMF is Onward to Opportunity (O2O) established in 2015. O2O is a best-in-class, national career skills program offered at 19 military installations across the country and an online only program for those who reside outside of a 50-mile radius of an O2O installation. In June 2017, O2O launched in Fort Carson, Colorado and continues to offer free career skills training program and industry recognized certifications in support of the military community. The award-winning Colorado team consists of retired Air Force officer Joe Aldaz and Katrina Lusk who is an Army military spouse. The local program has served over 1,000 participants by providing no-cost professional development, certification, and connections to new or better careers.

The Colorado O2O program offers a 4-day workshop called Onward to Your Career (OTYC) that consists of professional development, skills training, and opportunities to grow your professional network. After the 4-day workshop learners move into an online self-paced, self-study curriculum in their certification training track. O2O offers over 30 certifications in the focus areas of information technology and business management. In the IT area, offerings include courses such as CompTIA’s Security+, CISCO’s Certified Network Associate (CCNA), the Certified Information Systems Security (CISSP) certification, and many more. Business management certifications include project management, human resources, customer service excellence, and data science core concepts. To learn more about the 30+ certifications offered visit www.onward2opportunty.com and check out the career training section.

When an O2O participants completes the Onward to Your Career workshop and their coursework we connect them with HHUSA and our 800+ employer partners. Through personalized service and support HHUSA assists O2O participants with resume revision, career coaching, and connecting to military friendly employers. Employers that partner with O2O through HHUSA also benefit from this program by saving on costs in training and recruiting by hiring highly qualified O2O graduates and fulfill commitments to hire talented veterans and military spouses.

America’s service members protect the American Dream, we help set them up to live it. The Onward to Opportunity program is tailored to meet specific needs of the military-connected individual and is available to transitioning service members within the last 6 months prior to separation, veterans with an honorable discharge, National Guard and Reserve service members and military spouses. Each eligible individual may participate in O2O one time. Through the generosity of our donors, O2O is offered at no cost to participants and the program covers the tuition for OTYC, coursework, test preparation materials, and one industry certification exam fee. Interested participants can visit www.onward2opportunity.com to learn more and sign up. 


The Resource Exchange, Passionately Valuing the Families of Our Community

The Resource Exchange was founded in 1964 in Colorado Springs by those passionate families who simply wanted their children to be treated fairly and included as valued members of the community.

TRE’s commitment over the last 57 years has not wavered. Its mission is: Advocating for independence and inclusion, The Resource Exchange partners with children and adults who have a variety of disabilities, delays, mental health or long-term care needs. TRE uses a person-centered approach in coordinating care, promoting choices, and collaborating with community partners.

TRE is one of 20 “Community Centered Boards” in Colorado. As a Community Centered Board, TRE is responsible to determine eligibility, provide comprehensive case management and provide or purchase services and supports for the people they serve.

TRE is also the Single Entry Point for this region meaning it administers all of Colorado’s Medicaid waivers, making it easier for people to access waiver services in one place. So what IS a waiver?

A Medicaid “waiver” enables someone to receive long-term care and resources to live in the community they choose, helping provide services to someone who might otherwise be in a hospital, nursing facility, or institution. Medicaid funding, in the form of a waiver, is available and TRE can help determine if someone qualifies and if so, how to enroll.

For example, among the military community, TRE would be able to determine if someone qualifies for mental health assistance if they are experiencing PTSD, determine eligibility for a veteran with a brain injury, help someone find services if they need long-term care, or assist a family who thinks their child might be behind on developmental milestones.

TRE has five main areas of service: Navigation and Quality, Service Coordination, Early Intervention,  Family Support Services and “Break Time” programs, and Long-Term Care services.

Early Intervention through TRE provides supports and services to children from birth through three years old, who may just be a bit behind reaching developmental milestones like crawling or speaking or children who have special developmental needs. TRE meets each child’s needs in their natural environment, typically at home, promoting learning in real life within the family’s activities and routines. TRE is the only official Part C Early Intervention provider in El Paso, Park, and Teller counties and

TRE Early Intervention is provided to families at NO cost, regardless of income or insurance.

  • Approximately one-third of children TRE serves need no additional supports after their third birthday.
  • Last year, over 1800 children received Early Intervention services
  • 265 children, parents and caregivers received Early Childhood Mental Health Supports.
  • 88% of families who received TRE’s Early Childhood Mental Health services or classes reported a reduction in family stress

TRE’s Family Support Services Program cares for the caregiver. Medicaid and private insurance just don’t cover all of the costs experienced by many TRE families. Through Colorado general funds and generous donors, this program provides funding for eligible families and last year provided items like gym memberships for respite, iPads or tablets for people to bridge the digital divide experienced by many with disabilities, weighted blankets for children with sensory needs, and help with home modifications. “Break Time” also fills a critical need for families with children who have severe developmental or physical disabilities. While the children are in the capable hands of professionals and one-on-one care, their parents and guardians enjoy a break or a date night for a few hours. Community groups and volunteers make these events a meaningful way to give back.

For those seeking long-term home health, assisted living, or nursing facility services, TRE can also connect people to extended care services and supports. TRE can assist someone needing in-home services such as a CNA, Life-Alert, assistance with daily care, support with mental health needs connected to a traumatic brain injury, or someone needing a nursing facility level of care. TRE does not make placement decisions for anyone or their family but can assist with available resources and determine if someone is financially eligible for Medicaid-approved assistance.

From individual donations or corporate gifts and partnerships, to building motorized cars for children with mobility issues, there are a variety of meaningful ways to support TRE’s work in the community. Call 719.380.1100 or go to www.tre.org for more information about how The Resource Exchange can help you or about how you can make a difference in the lives of the people they serve.

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