Veteran Advocate: Judy Atencio

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Veteran Advocate Judy A. Atencio

Judy Atencio has been an active veteran advocate for 20 years.  She works tirelessly caring for veterans.   Whether the issue is agent orange, the elderly, disabled or homeless, if a veteran is in need, Judy is attempting to solve the problem.  If you are attending a veteran meeting, fund-raiser or program in the West Metro area, chances are Judy helped coordinate and organize the event.  If you look around the room, she is probably present and taking notes.  She is everywhere!  Judy Atencio is the epitome of the philosophy:  “It’s not what you say… it’s what you do.”  She is amazing.  Unfortunately for the Denver Metro area, Judy and her husband Ed are retiring and moving to Montrose in August.

Cliff Fejfar, Vietnam Veteran and  member of Vietnam Veterans of America- Chapter 1071 shared his thoughts regarding Judy’s dedication:

“They say that dynamite comes in small packages and that’s how Judy Atencio operates.  In knowing Judy for the past six years I’ve learned that once she puts her mind to it she always gets the job done.  She is the most aggressive veteran advocate that I have ever seen. There are a lot of homeless veterans that can thank Judy for finding them a place to stay.  She not only cares about their health but if need be will pick them up and take them to the VA herself.  We should all be thankful that there has been a person like Judy here in Denver to take care of our Veterans the way she has……She will be greatly missed.  I wish you all the best in your relocation to the western slope.”  Cliff Fejfar, VP Rocky Mountain Honor Flight.

Here is what Judy Atencio, our veteran advocate had to say:  Is there someone in your family who is a veteran or currently serving?  “I come from a family where military service is evident through the generations.  My father is a WWII Army Veteran who served in Italy and Germany.  Two of my uncles were in the Korean War with the Air Force.  Two of my brother-in-laws are Vietnam Veterans, Navy and Army. I also have three cousins who served in the Air Force in Desert Storm, a nephew who served in Iraq (Marine), and a nephew who served in Afghanistan with the Air Force.  Also, last year, my nephew graduated from The Naval Academy.”

How long have you been involved/worked with veterans?   “I have worked with individuals who have a disability (physical, mental, or emotional) for the last 20 years and a number of them have been veterans.  My background is in program management, case management, and advocacy for persons with disabilities and elders.  I have administered community home health agency programs and housing programs over the years.

One of my greatest joys was to administer an adult day program that included 4 Vietnam Veterans who had brain injuries. The goal was to teach them how to be more self reliant in the community.  We worked on independent living skills including cooking, laundry, advocating for oneself, navigating through appointments, transportation training and more.  I was thrilled to see their progress.

Another joy has been to take some veterans out of nursing homes thru the years and help them live independently with support services.  These veterans have no family contact and are without funds.  They need community health care programs to survive.

All of my efforts with our veteran population is voluntary.  It is my great honor to assist veterans because we, in our society owe a debt of gratitude to our men and women who have served and kept us safe.”

Is there a particular veteran organization that is close to your heart that you are involved with?  “Yes.  I have been a proud associate member of the Vietnam Veterans of America-Chapter 1071 for the past 4 years.  I help host our meetings on the 3rd Saturday of the month at my Elks Lodge, located at 1455 Newland St. in Lakewood.  We welcome all Vietnam Veterans and those from the Vietnam Era. www.vva1071.org

I also cherish my relationship with the Elks Lodge 1777 in Lakewood for the last 5 years. The Elk’s motto is:  “So long as there are Veterans, the benevolent and protective order of Elks will never forget them.” www.lakewoodelks.com

What upcoming events are you associated with that you would like to mention?  “The Vietnam Veterans of America-Chapter 1071, and Jefferson Center for mental health are sponsoring a FREE FAMILY EVENT at Elks Lodge 1777, on April 15 2016.  This event is called, Tuesday Tucks Me In.  ‘Tuesday,’ is the guide dog for Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan.  Captain Montalvan is an Iraq/Afghanistan Army Purple Heart and other honors Veteran who wrote this children’s book about his guide dog.  He will be in attendance, reading and signing books.  The first 50 children who sign up for this event will receive a free book. This is a great intergenerational event with Vietnam Vets who can bring their grandchildren, great grandchildren or just a child in their life.

Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans are also invited to bring their children or a child in their life.   (Please register for this event by April 10th by contacting Carl LoFaro @ (303)432-5054 or CarlL@jcmh.org.)”  Come meet this hero, and his dog Tuesday.

TUESDAY TUCKS ME IN by Luis Carlos Montalván

THANK YOU Judy, for all that you do for veterans of every era!   We also want to thank your husband, Ed, for understanding how important it is for you to be a veteran advocate.

In conclusion, I would like to personally thank Judy for attending Star Spangled Boomerang’s hosting of the film, “Project 22” last month, and being available for the Vietnam Veterans that are close to her heart.  Judy Atensio, you are an Angel and we will truly miss you in our West Metro area!  Best of luck to you and Ed in the future, and know we feel fortunate to have you with us for the next five months.

 

AND TO ALL OUR VETERANS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.

Check out following 4:34 minute youtube link showing Captain Montalvan with his dog, Tuesday. www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmLW65H7er4 – 237k 

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