Inaugural event included medical physicals by TV celebrity physician Dr. Mehmet Oz, seminars and symposiums on veterans issues, and a concert by music legends Vince Gill and Amy Grant
DALLAS, Jan. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Organizers of one of the largest community-based veteran support initiatives ever held in the U.S. are calling the event an unqualified success, but say more action is necessary if communities are to be prepared to support returning military and veterans. Nearly 4,000 people attended the event at Texas Rangers Ballpark and Dallas Cowboys Stadium. The goals of CAMO Dallas were to connect returning military, veterans and their families to community resources to help them transition from military to civilian life.
CAMO Dallas was organized by Challenge America, a national veterans support organization focused on creating an integrated, community-based support infrastructure that is easier for veterans to access and maneuver through. Focused in large part on health and wellness issues, the event also included seminars, symposiums and guest speakers from area veteran and family support organizations that addressed an array of transitional issues, including mental health, employment, housing and family issues. Military members also were able to obtain information and contacts of various groups and organizations from North Texas at a Resource Fair held on the field of Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Attendees were also treated to a family-style picnic and a concert by music legends Vince Gill and Amy Grant, honorary co-founders of Challenge America, and up-and-coming recording artist Jenny Gill.
"We issued three challenges to North Texas this weekend," said Houston Cowan, Challenge America's CEO and Founder. "We challenged the residents of North Texas to help provide resources necessary for veterans and their families to transition back from active duty. We challenged veteran-serving organizations to work closer together and ensure these resources are used wisely. And we challenged our returning veterans and their families to seek out the help and support they need. The challenge for all of us is to ensure that not one returning veteran is left behind in creating a new, productive life for themselves and their families."
CAMO Dallas is the first of five similar events to be staged across the country. North Texas was selected for the kick-off event because Texas has 1.6 million veterans – the largest population of military members in the nation. The remaining four events will take place in California, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida, which join Texas as states with the highest concentrations of active duty military and veterans. Honorary Chairpersons for the events were former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter and Major General John Nichols, Adjutant General of the Texas Military Forces.
"North Texas has so many great things happening for veterans that we believe it can be a model community for the nation," Cowan said. "We were pleased with the attendance and participation for this event, and we'll look at how we can make adjustments to make it even better in the communities we visit in the future."
Dr. Mehmet Oz of The Dr. Oz Show, along with a team of area medical volunteers from Texas Health Resources, provided 15-minute physical examinations for more than 1,000 military members, veterans and residents of the North Texas region. He used data collected from the examinations to prepare a Regional Health Report Card for representatives from the city councils of Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington. Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins, Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, Fort Worth Mayor Pro Tem Zim Zimmerman and Fort Worth City Councilmembers Jungus Jordan and Danny Scarth accepted the report card on behalf of their cities.
From the concert stage, music stars Vince Gill and Amy Grant read letters to the audience penned by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush. The singers also offered their personal assurance that Challenge America would continue to raise the awareness of veterans issues and push for support.
"We will be there for you just as you have always been there for us," Gill said as he opened the concert. "We will not forget the sacrifices you have made for our country. We will not leave you behind."
CAMO Dallas also included what is believed to be one of the largest exclusive gatherings of active-duty women and women veterans ever. Nearly 200 women participated in a workshop presented by F7 Group in which the numerous issues women face in the military and after they leave active duty were addressed.
Texas-based sponsors and partners of the event included Mary Kay, the Veterans Coalition of North Central Texas, Joining Community Forces Texas, F7 Group, Allies in Service, Texas Health Resources, the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas, the Boot Campaign, and American Airlines. Other partners and sponsors included Flight Options, Raytheon, and SheerID.
For more information, visit www.challengeamerica.com/camo/dallas.
Challenge AmericaTM Military Opportunities (CAMO) has a mission of bridging the transition from battlefield to home front by connecting military and their families to resources in their own communities. Established as a nonprofit organization in 2009, Challenge America recognized the lack of and need for the coordination of resources and information at the local community level for returning military and their families. With the launch of Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Events over the next 24 months in the five states in which over 40% of the nation's military resides (Texas, California, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia), CAMO provides a platform for local organizations to collaborate within their own communities and to educate those seeking services to find them.
SOURCE Challenge America(TM) Military Opportunities (CAMO)