March 2018

March 13, 2018

WDVA Receives Pillars of Excellence Award for Vet Corps Program

The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs has been awarded the Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This is WDVA’s sixth Pillars of Excellence Award since 2014.

The award recognizes outstanding state programs that support veterans within their states. This year’s award is for WDVA’s innovations in the development of the nation’s first Vet Corps program.  WDVA launched the Vet Corps in 2009 in response to an influx of returning veterans enrolling in Washington State colleges and universities after significant changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  The Vet Corps is funded through an AmeriCorps grant, co-managed by Serve Washington, which provides 50 Vet Corps members with a stipend and education award at the end of their service. 

Here in Washington State we wanted to be sure that military personnel transitioning from active duty to our higher education campuses had the level of support and sense of belonging that they needed. The Vet Corps provides peer support and guidance to help veterans navigate their veteran benefits and the sometimes complex landscape of higher education systems.

The Vet Corps promotes systemic change through Veteran Navigators strategically located in higher education settings who develop opportunities for volunteerism and educating faculty and administration in veteran cultural competencies.

The Vet Corps helps veterans be successful in their post-secondary education by providing a peer-to-peer mentorship program on college campuses, tapping into the knowledge, skills and abilities of veterans by engaging them in AmeriCorps national service positions, and enabling veterans to make a positive difference in their communities.

-WDVA Director, Alfie Alvarado-Ramos



Combat Vets Motorcycle Association Honors Spokane Veterans Home Residents

The Spokane Veterans Home recently had the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association come in and honor two veteran residents.

They honored them by presenting a shadow box with all of their awards they have received while serving.

After the presentation ceremony the home celebrated by having an ice cream social with the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association. An important part for these ceremonies comes from the collaboration the local Combat Vets Motorcycle Association working with WDVA Veterans Benefits Specialists to find out what their awards are and then the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association turns around and buys all of the awards needed, while also creating the shadow boxes from scratch.

The group has done this for five residents so far and three more presentations will be coming up!


Going for Gold: Olympics at Washington Soldiers Home

The Washington Soldiers Home in Orting held their own Olympics event throughout the week for veteran residents to get into the "Olympic Spirit."

During Olympics week, veterans participated in several events with gold, silver and bronze medals being handed out per event and for the overall winners as well.

A snow of smiles was present during events like luge, trivia, curling, bingo, a biathlon and more.











Remembering the Forgotten War: The Korean War Memorial at Capitol Campus (ThurstonTALK)

Olympia’s Capitol Campus is dotted with many landmarks and memorials. These include the Winged Victory Monument (World War I), World War II Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, POW/MIA Memorial, Law Enforcement Memorial and an obelisk honoring Medal of Honor recipients from Washington State. However, many visitors miss the Korean War Memorial. Located on the East Campus Plaza next to the Capitol Way sky bridge, the memorial honors Washington State residents who died in the war.


The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when North Korean forces invaded South Korea. Japan had controlled Korea since 1910, and after the end of World War II the Korean peninsula split between a communist north and democratic south. The conflict lasted three bloody years. It was a truly devastating war, over 2.5 million civilians were killed, close to a million South Korean soldiers died and 1.5 million North Korean and Chinese soldiers were killed or wounded. Twenty-one countries formed a United Nations-backed alliance to aid South Korea, though the United States formed the bulk of the force. Over 2.5 million Americans served in Korea, and over 53,000 of them lost their lives. Despite the war lasting three years, the presence afterwards of millions of veterans and Korean-Americans in the United States and a continued military presence in South Korea, the Korean War has largely slipped from the American popular conscience. This has earned it the nickname of “The Forgotten War.”



Washington State Legislative Update on Veterans Bills

The 2018 Legislative Session ended on March 8, 2018.  During the 60 day session a number of bills were considered that would impact veterans or their families. 

Ultimately, ten bills and one Senate Resolution were passed and are on their way to the Governor’s Office for action.  Bills that passed include adding to the types of document a veteran can show to the Department of Licensing in order to have a Veteran designation added to a driver’s license; adding several military campaigns to the definition of veteran for purposes of interruptive military service credit in public retirement plans; establishing a donation program for resident disabled veterans to receive hunting and fishing licenses and continuing the state sales tax exemption on automotive adaptive equipment for disabled veterans. 

You can view a full list of the bills at  


WDVA Receives CFD Large Agency Award

Washington Department of Veterans Affairs was honored to recently receive the Washington State Combined Fund Drive "Large Agency" award for a participation rate of 46.68%.  

We are honored to join the collaborative efforts to raise over $5.4 million for Washington State charities in 2017! #WeLoveOurCommunity



Unclaimed Remains Interment – April 19th at 2:30pm – More than 40 Veterans to be interred including a Civil War Veteran

The Washington Department of Veterans Affairs collaborates with Veterans service groups, funeral industry partners, public administrators and other concerned citizens throughout the state and across the panhandle of Idaho to ensure the dignified burial of unclaimed veterans. 

Collectively we work to locate, positively identify, and inter eligible veterans and family members. 

These organizations work tirelessly throughout the year researching military service records and vital records to locate unclaimed veterans eligible for burial at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery. 

Once identified, the logistics of claiming and coordinating the transfer to the state’s Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake begins. 

Over the coming weeks unclaimed Veterans remains from throughout the state will be escorted to the Washington State Veterans Cemetery, Medical Lake where the cremains will be ceremoniously turned over to the Department of Veterans Affairs for interment. 

These individuals will be interred in their final resting place with full military honors in a community interment service. 

This service will include the interment of a Civil War Veteran, his spouse, and their World War I veteran son. The final committal service will take place at 2:30pm on Thursday April 19, 2018, and is open to the public.

The Washington State Veterans Cemetery is open to the public 7 days a week, from 8am to sunset. Interments are held Monday through Friday and are scheduled by contacting the cemetery staff. 

For additional information regarding the ride and the interment service please contact the cemetery at 509-299-6280 or visit .


Honoring Women’s History Month – Veteran Inmates Offered Special Counseling

In February 2018, under the leadership of WDVA Director Alvarado-Ramos, WA State Governor Inslee was briefed about incarcerated women veterans and our support groups at Purdy and Mission Creek. 

The following points were presented:

  • -Over 200 women veterans have attended our support group over the last 5 years
  • -The challenges of identifying incarcerated women veterans (DOC 310.140)

-Measuring our success in lower recidivism rates – no women who received benefits have returned

-Veterans support services that help to eliminate homelessness (housing; medical coverage)

-American Legion Post 204 membership for DOC involved women veterans

Read more


Federal VA Launches Telehealth Program for Rural Vets with PTSD

With a focus on improving access to mental health care for Veterans living in rural areas, today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it has launched a pilot telehealth program that will give rural Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) remote access to psychotherapy and related services.

VA’s Office of Rural Health, in partnership with VA's Quality Enhancement Research Initiative, is supporting the Telemedicine Outreach for PTSD (TOP) program to deliver therapy and other care through phone and interactive video contact. 

Read more at:


Auburn’s Vietnam War memorial

Alliance hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at Les Gove Park on March 11 

The City of Auburn/American-Vietnamese War Memorial Alliance held a groundbreaking ceremony on March 11 for its Vietnam War memorial at Les Gove Park, 910 9th St. SE.

Mayor Nancy Backus and Alfie Alvarado Ramos, director of the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs, and other guests spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Construction of the memorial began on March 12. The alliance hopes to complete construction and hold a dedication ceremony on or around Memorial Day (May 28).

According to alliance leaders, the memorial design features a Wall of Honor on the back side of a circular plaza, 50 feet in diameter. In the center of the Wall of Honor will be a Vietnam veteran insignia (yellow, red, and green), inscriptions and the image of a soldier engraved in granite panels.

Also, along the wall will be two panels displaying names and the insignia of U.S. and South Vietnamese branches of military service.

The Wall of Honor will display up to 1,000 individual engraved granite tiles honoring Vietnam veterans, living and dead. People can still order an Honor Tile for a Vietnam veteran with a donation of $100.

The alliance is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization. For more information or to donate, call 360-357-7684, email, or visit



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Upcoming Events

View our WDVA Calendar to stay updated with upcoming events to attend

03/31 - Welcome Home Vietnam Events

03/28 - Hire GI Armed Forces Career Fair


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