(COLORADO SPRINGS) — The fight to expand community care for veterans continues in El Paso County. Senator John Hickenlooper is heading across the state to identify issues impacting veterans, starting at Mt. Carmel Veteran Service Center in Colorado Springs.

Hickenlooper helped pass the PACT Act into law in August, which The PACT Act expands access to health care and benefits for veterans suffering from the effects of toxic exposure. The state leader said he isn’t stopping there.

“I believe it will take a lot of the anxiety out of veterans having to schedule their health care and sort through what they can afford, what they can’t afford,” Hickenlooper said.

Hickenlooper celebrated the passage of the PACT Act, and now looks to expand services by hearing directly from the source.

“I feel like a lot of the veteran issues need to be addressed at the federal level,” said Ken Curtner, UCHealth’s lead military affairs clinician. “Here in the state of Colorado and especially El Paso County we are taking decent care of our veterans.”

Hickenlooper said there’s still a lot of work to be done as local veterans tell him they continue to face struggles accessing behavioral health, employment opportunities, supportive health care, and more. Hickenlooper believes in order to make progress, it’s going to take bipartisan support.

“I feel like there’s 20-25 republicans that want to work together, I think there’s 20-25 democrats that are responsible and want to compromise and work on issues,” Hickenlooper explained.

City leaders said all the support lawmakers need is already here in El Paso County.

“These folks are the people who are making this the best duty station military service members will ever have,” said Jessie Kimber, Special Assistant of Military Affairs for Mayor John Suthers. “I speak as a retired military service member who used every aspect of their services when I retired.”

Services like Next Chapter, which is newly up and running in El Paso County to assist all veterans in their transition from active service.

“We have grant funding from the state to help our veterans, it’s no out of pocket costs and it’s veterans serving veterans,” Curtner says.

Hickenlooper now heads back to the Senate with a full list of remarks from local veterans.