Colorado – “Uncle Howie,” or Kelly Matson, was a Specialist in the Army infantry while deployed to Iraq: Charlie Company 1-21, 2nd Platoon… the “Badgers.” He knows what it’s like to come back to the United States with no “Welcome Home,” and suffering from severe PTSD. He wants to help other veterans in their transition from deployment overseas to home.
Why the name “Uncle Howie”
While in Iraq, Kelly was dubbed “Howie” and “Uncle Howie” because he had a gap in his front teeth that resembled a singer from a Goth Band. Upper echelon officers just called him Howie- the troops pegged him “Uncle Howie.” The name stuck.
Kelly had a difficult life prior to his service. But in true military fashion, those difficulties were overcome with a positive attitude.
“I’m an optimistic person. I keep a smile on my face all the time.” Kelly Matson
His plan to help
Kelly is looking at 40 acres in Colorado where he can build an advocacy center and transition facility for veterans. The property has a stream on it, and he envisions therapy horses as part of the program. He wants to lease part of that property to solar/wind companies and feed the profits back into the center. He wants the veterans to be able to navigate their transition without being overwhelmed.
Short Term, he would like to have a place where returning military can take time to rest and remove the pressure of reintegration. It would be a place where Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors can learn how to adjust to civilian life and find resources to help. The process would last 3 to 6 months.
“I want to show them how to be self-sufficient, and focus on food and water, teach them gardening.. We’ll help them fill out paperwork for any resources, and not just shove them to a website and walk away. All they’ll need is a valid DD-214. One thing the VA doesn’t tell people is that for the first year all their medical and dental bills are fully covered, but they have to sign up with that first year out. We’ll help them get signed up for that.”
Long term, Kelly wants the older veterans who are homeless to have a place to stay and get resources. He says they can “spruce up the grounds” in return for his group’s help. His group hopes to help both older veterans and returning ones get interviews for jobs. He wants to make sure that their advocacy center is staffed with real people on the end of the phone, not an automated system like the VA.
Kelly has already donated his truck to a veteran couple with 3 children. He is hoping to create a nonprofit with “floating bylaws” so that eventually they will be able to provide vehicles and other items to veterans in need as they are needed.
It’s a big dream, one that would go a long way toward serving our military veterans with honor and respect.
“It’s time that we start treating our heroes like heroes.”
Uncle Howies Soldiers website