VALCO’s Jeffery Johnson
Leading with kindness and compassion sums up Jeffery Johnson’s goal as the Executive Director of Veterans Assistance League of Colorado (VALCO). His hands-on approach comes from his heart, not just with veterans and their challenges, but with others in the VALCO organization.
During the few hours that I spent with Jeff, his phone rang constantly with business relating to both veteran concerns and organization issues. Jeff’s likeable style, in my opinion, is to treat everyone fairly and give the best advice he can about getting the job done right.
His compassion for veterans comes easily since he is a veteran himself. Jeff enlisted in the Army when he was 19. He served for 6 years, and was honorable discharged with a disability. The struggles to find the help he needed, like so many other returning veterans, was frustrating and time-consuming. It inspired him to eventually create, with others, the non-profit organization that would provide some type of road map with answers for other veterans in crisis. VALCO is that organization. His experience and insight with our current veterans and their problems shaped his hands-on method. Because of his commitment, he insisted I include his telephone number. (303)394-7569.
According to Jeff, “A veterans journey can be so impersonal. My goal is to address them in a personal way, and let them know how important they are! I understand because I have felt their hurt. I have experienced their struggle. All it takes is one phone call to change their life. That is why I make myself so accessible.”
Reverend Juls Mercer, VALCO’s Board Member President, works closely with Jeff. She has been involved in veteran advocacy since the mid 90’s, especially with the homeless. Her father is a disabled veteran from the Korean war. She met Jeff at a VALCO meeting.
In Rev. Juls own words: “I was immediately impressed with Jeff’s commitment to creating a “Vet to Vet” organization to address the needs of veterans living in extreme poverty. Beyond Jeff’s commitment, he also impressed me with his academic background in non-profit management. It is the combination of heart and technical skills that assures the sustainability of a non-profit. Beyond this is the ability to see the job through. Social justice and community service work at the grassroots level is grueling work with little or no financial reward for the founder. It takes a level of personal sacrifice for the good of the whole. Jeff has been and continues to do whatever it takes to meet the needs of his fellow veterans. It is evident in the continued growth and success of VALCO. It is an honor to serve VALCO and work with Jeff to meet the needs of veterans living in extreme poverty and homelessness.”
VALCO is truly a grass-roots organization. If you are inspired to volunteer your time helping veterans who need immediate assistance, take a look at VALCO. They are a 501(c)(3) organization. Their mission statement: “Fulfilling the needs of Colorado Veterans by providing innovative programs and services to maximize their quality of life.”
One such program is their “Vet to Vet” drop in coaching group held at, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 915 Emerson St. Denver, CO 80218, every Wednesday at 2pm. The topic of these sessions vary, depending on a case by case situation. Please try to call Jeff in advance, so your immediate needs can be addressed at this meeting.
Another way VALCO is helping our veteran community is with Vet Fest 2016. On June 25, 2016 at Lakewood Heritage Center Park, 801 South Yarrow St., Lakewood CO 80226, the 3rd Annual Rocky Mountain Vet Fest will be held. From VALCO’s website:
“Join us for food, family, fun, and live entertainment at our third annual Rocky Mountain Vet Fest to raise the public’s awareness of the full spectrum of Veterans issues, engage the broader Veterans’ community in a ‘veteran centric’ activity to build focused support for Veteran services, while we work to secure the necessary funding to build an “all-inclusive” Veterans Wellness Center and Residential Community for Veterans living in extreme poverty and homelessness in the Denver-Metro area.”
This family event will include live entertainment, food, retail vendors and much more. Musical groups booked: Vince Johnson & Friends, Magic Mountain, and Bruce & the Growlers. They are currently looking for Sponsors to help support their efforts. Spaces are also available for vendors and retail businesses who are interested in being part of Vet Fest 2016.
Come celebrate and support the contributions made by veterans living in the Rocky Mountain West region. Your involvement helps VALCO assist our veterans. This is a FREE event, donations are appreciated.
For more information on VALCO and how you can be involved: www.valcoinc.org. They can also be found on Facebook, and Twitter.