VIDEO: El Paso County’s Veterans Service Office announced Duane K.L. France as the Veteran of the Year at a ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 3.

Duane K. L. France retired from the U.S. Army in 2014 and immediately began the next chapter of his life by supporting veterans that are impacted by mental health concerns at the local, state, and national level.

Duane currently serves as the Director of Veteran Services at the Family Care Center and the Executive Director of Colorado Veterans Health and Wellness Agency.

Duane has been recognized by the George W. Bush Institute of Service Initiatives, he is currently serving as a member of the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program Scholar Program, the American Counseling Association’s Public Policy and Legislation Committee, Committee Chair of the Military and Government Counseling Association, an Advisory Board Member for the Peak Military Care Network, State Legislative Advisory Board Member for State Representative Lois Landgraf, and Policy and Legislation Committee Member of the Colorado Counseling Association. He also serves on the National Collaborative for Suicide Prevention.

Duane has published three books to support military, veterans, and their loved ones. These titles include Combat Vet Don’t Mean Crazy, Head Space and Timing, and Changing Your Point of View about Memorial Day.

Duane France was unable to attend, but his wife, Connie, accepted the award for him. Katie Civiletto, Program Manager for Give An Hour, read the acceptance speech for France.

“The Veteran of the Year is our way to honor an El Paso County Veteran for the contributions they have made helping other veterans and their families,” said Marshall Bosworth, El Paso County’s Veterans Services Officer. “All of the finalists are very deserving and we look forward to announcing the Veteran of the Year at this year’s ceremony.”

Three other nominees were present for the ceremony, Joe V. Aldaz, Nanette Brédé Mueller and Charles G. Watkins. The ceremony was held at the Veterans Monument in Bear Creek Regional Park.