Helping the military meet the mountains |

Helping the military meet the mountains

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Julie Hanson loves living in the mountains. And she’s more than happy to help military families experience her lifestyle each month.”I like the small-town feel,” said Hanson, of Glenwood Springs.Hanson, a Minnesota native, is an attorney at Beattie and Chadwick law firm in Glenwood. In her free time, the 29-year-old likes to camp, hike and ski. When she’s not handling real estate and business transactions in the office or enjoying the Rocky Mountains, she’s secretary-treasurer on the board of Operation Vacation. The program hosts war veterans to Glenwood Springs for an all-expenses-paid weekend of rest and relaxation.”It’s different than just sending presents to the military,” she said. “It’s definitely unique.”Hanson is not a veteran – she studied sociology, criminology and communication studies at the University of Kansas before graduating from the University of Denver’s law school in 2004. But her grandfather was a tank commander in the Army during World War II, mostly in France and Germany. And she likes to meet the veterans and their families who participate in Operation Vacation.

“They all have different stories,” she said. “But I don’t ask them about the military because they’re here on vacation. It’s like bringing up work when you’re on vacation.”One Operation Vacation family stands out in Hanson’s mind because they especially enjoyed their time in Glenwood – as does she.”There was one of them who didn’t really have a wedding,” she said. “They want to come back here in the spring to get married because they had so much fun here.”Hanson believes in the power of Operation Vacation.She’s seen how paragliding can bring a family together. Or a dinner out on the town can do wonders for a military couple that spends several months out of the year apart.”I had read all the articles about it and saw what a cool deal it was,” she said. “I just thought it was a good project.”

She recognized Operation Vacation’s founder, Bob Johnson, a real estate agent at Vicki Lee Green Realtors, for making the program a success in Colorado.”I admire him for starting Operation Vacation,” she said. “He really has a passion for it, and he gets everyone else excited about it.”Hanson and the Operation Vacation board members hope to see the program branch out to other resort destinations with nearby military bases. There’s interest in establishing Operation Vacation in Winter Park and other towns and cities nationwide.”It’s just going to be growing and growing,” Hanson said. “It’ll take time, but it will be great. Bob gets e-mails from people all over the place.”She’ll continue to take board-meeting minutes, volunteer at Operation Vacation fundraisers such as the Dog Days Festival, and establish herself in the mountain town she calls home.”I’ve been in Colorado for eight years now – I lived in Vail prior to going to law school,” she said.

“After law school I wanted to get out of Denver. I wanted to go to a mountain resort.”Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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