Veterans Day in Colorado Springs: How the City Helps Veterans Live their Best Lives
Through their selfless service and sacrifice, veterans have played a vital role in shaping U.S. history and upholding its principles. Colorado Springs is one of the most trusted cities for former service members to live, work, and play, with more than 80,000 veterans and 111,000 active service members comprising 17% of the city’s population.
WalletHub named Colorado Springs as the No. 7 Best U.S. City for Veterans for 2023, thanks to a great quality of life, easy access to healthcare and notable employment and business ownership opportunities for veterans. Meanwhile, Veterans United named the city the second best in the nation for veterans based on key indicators such as academics, social opportunities, and economic stability. Read on to learn about the forces making the Pikes Peak Region a welcoming center for transitioning service members.
A Community Built to Serve Veterans
Many aspects go into becoming one of the most lauded cities for former service members. For starters, Colorado Springs is home to five military bases and two Air Force bases that create an environment where veteran wellbeing is a top priority. Through the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC Military Affairs Council (MAC), Colorado Springs strengthens connections between installations and the civilian community, creating a bridge for transitioning service members.
Veterans have an abundance of skills that are easily transferrable to the civilian sector, and Colorado Springs businesses are inclined to integrate them into careers. Veterans are also able to more easily obtain security clearance, enabling them to support the region’s prominent aerospace and defense industry. A few of the major veteran employers in the region include:
- Northrop Grumman
- L3Harris Technologies
- Lockheed Martin
- The Aerospace Corporation
- Raytheon Technologies
- Colorado Springs Utilities
Building Upon Unique Skillsets
Former service members looking to grow a career in cybersecurity can do so at Colorado Springs ACI Learning Tech Academy, which offers the ability to become certificated in IT, project management, and more. ACI students receive one-on-one career support that connects them to a network of local employers such as the ones above.
The Pikes Peak region also has five universities and colleges that are certified by the National Security Agency (NSA), providing an opportunity for former service members to tap into careers in Colorado Springs’ growing cybersecurity industry:
- University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS)
- United Air Force Academy
- Colorado Technical University
- Pikes Peak State College
- Regis University
Most schools offer specialized support, mentoring, and networking opportunities for veterans to transition from a learning environment into a successful career, such as UCCS’ McCord-Herbst Student Veteran Center.
Business Spotlight: Model Citizen Coffee
In Colorado Springs, it’s typical for former service members to realize the skills they’ve acquired both in the military and academically have made them well-prepared for the rigors of business ownership. In fact, 6.3% of small businesses in the city are owned by veterans — a number well above the national average.
This year, Enrique Camacho, owner of Model Citizen Coffee Company, was chosen among nearly 90 nominees for the Pikes Peak region’s Veteran Small Business Owner of the Year award. The retired Army colonel was interviewed by The Veterans Voice, where he spoke of his journey from being an officer in the U.S. Army to becoming a professional roaster and how thirty years in the military prepared him with the adaptability, determination, and perseverance necessary for becoming a successful entrepreneur. Now, with the support of several veteran organizations in the area, Mr. Camacho is in his third year of business ownership in Colorado Springs.
While Enrique’s story is one of notable success, veteran-owned businesses in Colorado Springs continue to open on a regular basis. Check out just a few of the breweries and eateries that have opened recently in the Pikes Peak region.
Veteran Business Community Updates for 2023
Amenities for the veteran-owned business community in Colorado Springs are continuing to grow, with several new organizations fostering growth in 2023 and beyond. In July, the Mt. Caramel Veteran Service Center opened its doors, unveiling the region’s first Veterans Business Outreach Center and creating new learning and counseling opportunities for veteran entrepreneurs. In light of National Veterans Small Business Week, and in collaboration with the U.S Small Business Administration Colorado District Office, the Southern Colorado Small Business Development Center, APEX Accelerators, the National Center for the Veteran Institute of Procurement, UCCS Veteran and Military Affairs, as well as other community resource partners, the center orchestrated a week of events to empower service members, veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, and military spouses with entrepreneurial trainings and resources right in their local community. This served as a celebration of the history of military community entrepreneurship, as well as a highlight of the breadth of free to low-cost resources SBA and its partners offer to veteran, service member and military spouse small business owners locally and statewide.
The Veterans Victory Housing and Small Business Center — currently under construction near Fort Carson and Colorado Springs Airport — will be a 15-acre mixed-use community. Featuring 240 ADA-accessible, green apartment units, business offices, and a range of services including mental health, physical therapy, and hiking trails, the new business center promises to be a holistic environment for veteran growth.
Veterans Day in Colorado Springs is more than a once-a-year commemoration of our nation’s service members — it’s a day to learn about the many organizations providing extensive support for our local military. Read more about the initiatives that strengthen veterans and their families in the Pikes Peak region.
Additional organizations supporting veterans and their families:
– Space Force Base Military and Family Readiness Centers
– Air Force Base Airman and Family Readiness Centers
– Army’s Community Service Centers
– Pikes Peak Workforce Center
– US Veterans Affairs
– Military One Source
– United Service Organization (USO)
– The Air and Space Force Foundation
– Association of the United States Army