September 2018

Serving Veterans Without Homes

I have always said that one agency cannot do it all when it comes to serving the 560,000 veterans living in Washington.  It takes all of us putting our collective wisdom, resources, and passion for "Serving Those Who Served" together to truly make it happen!


Recently, members of our active duty military got involved in serving veterans without homes.  Members of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club at Madigan Army Medical Center completed a volunteer project to build a tiny shelter home, which will be used by a non-profit in Seattle to provide emergency shelter to veterans.  Moreover, this is just the beginning!  Other units are making plans to do similar builds and I have no doubt that veterans in need of emergency shelter will benefit from their hard work. 


In addition to these shelters, several transitional and permanent housing projects are being developed across the state.  A local non-profit is planning to build a village of tiny homes for veterans in Shelton and the Soldiers Home at Orting.  These are not emergency housing programs and instead will provide small communities for veterans and perhaps be a stepping-stone into other living arrangements.    


I am delighted to report that thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, WDVA will begin serving veterans with transitional housing in Roosevelt Barracks on the campus of the Soldiers Home later this fall.  We will be sharing additional information on that program soon, as well as opportunities for you or your organization to get involved by adopting a room.


I know there are many more projects out there and if we can help highlight the hard work that is happening for veterans, please send the information our way to


NOW HIRING: Certified Nursing Assistants - Walla Walla Veterans Home 

Are you a CNA looking for a career that allows you to give back to your community and provide compassionate care to Veterans?

The new Walla Walla Veterans Home is hiring Certified Nursing Assistants for the night shift.

As a Washington State Employee, your benefits include retirement plans, medical insurance, paid leave, and more. We may even be able to help with moving expenses!

Apply today at, contact us at or call the Walla Walla Veterans Home at 360-725-2183


September is Suicide Prevention Month

Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.

Each year, more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide, leaving behind their friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of loss. In many cases, friends and families affected by a suicide loss (often called “suicide loss survivors”) are left in the dark. Too often the feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic. We use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. It is also important to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention. NAMI is here to help.

Informational Resources

Crisis Resources

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

Awareness Resources

Help promote awareness by sharing images and graphics on your website and social media accounts. Use #SuicidePrevention or #StigmaFree.

Information via



Annual Home and Family Picnic held in Port Orchard

On Sunday August 19th, was the Port Orchard Veterans Home held their Annual Home and Family Picnic.  The residents invited their friends and family to the home for an outdoor hamburger and hot dog BBQ. 

Close to around 600 people came to celebrate, including the residents' families, staff and volunteers. 

“Rude and Unprofessional” entertained all the attendees throughout the picnic.  Most of the band members also served in the military, so coming to play for our guests each year is something they always look forward to. 

Everyone was able to stay cool with the help of complimentary Hawaiian Shaved Ice. 

We would like to thank the many volunteers who served hundreds of the flavorful treats, helped to barbecue, set up and clean up the event, interacted with the residents and more.

Walla Walla Veterans Home Residents Enjoy Lunch

Walla Walla Veterans Home residents chose the Tokyo Steak House as their lunch out restaurant of choice in late August.  Residents experienced the excitement of Teppanyaki Tableside Grilling.  It was a very artistic and entertaining style of cooking and the residents enjoyed a wonderful meal and time.


Spokane Veterans Home Gear Up for Football

On August 23rd, the Spokane Veterans Home held their Annual Tailgate Party. The residents joined in the annual Tailgate Seahawks by supporting their team with a group picture. It was all hands on deck and even all of our family, residents and staff got involved in joining in the picture and being with our residents.

We would like to thank the local Spokane Combat Vet Motorcycle Association for interacting with the residents at the BBQ and thanks goes to the local Spokane VFW for helping us serve up all of the food.

The Tailgate Party also had a dunk tank and our residents had a blast dunking all of the staff –

Thank goodness the water was warm!

We also got to enjoy looking at all of the cool motorcycles, old cars and played corn hole and drank non-alcoholic beer to celebrate.  We had so much fun and enjoyed everyone’s help.

Without the support of Volunteers, local groups, family, friends and workers we couldn’t have pulled this event off! #WeLoveOurCommunity



Water Fun in the Sun - Washington Soldiers Home

On August 14th, Washington Soldiers Home resident's participated in the 1st Annual Water Fun in the Sun program.

Five water stations where set up, that included a Duck Race with squirt guns, Knock the Cup Pyramid Down with a Water Blaster, a water balloon toss, Shoot the Cup on String Race.  Along with the water stations, there was also a bubble making area and the grand attraction, the Dunk Tank, where many residents lined up for a chance to soak the Recreation Staff and Part Time Staff.  Resident's competed against the clock and each other for prizes.

These big events would not be successful without the many volunteers. A big thank you goes out to the WA-KIMWA Ladies Korean American Organization, Puyallup VFW,  Doreen Roe and the many other individuals that helped make this new program a big splash!   


World War 1 Centennial & 2018 Veterans Day Event



For more information contact Gary Lott at



September: National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. The overarching theme for this year’s National Preparedness month is “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.”  We challenge you to take thirty minutes here or an hour there to complete simple tasks that will place you in a better position to respond to and recover from emergency situations. This week our focus is: Making and Practicing Your Plan.


Three Week 1 planning actions to take now:

  • Make/update your Emergency Plan using FEMA’s quick and easy templates.
  • Stay informed and know when to activate emergency plans by signing up to receive emergency alerts in your area:

o   Walla Walla Emergency Management Citizen Alert

o    ALERT Spokane

o   Pierce County ALERT

o  Thurston Community Alert

o    ALERT King County

o   Kitsap County ALERT

  • Practice your emergency plan.

Crystal Hauck
Emergency Preparedness and Safety Manager
Direct: 360.725.2234




Firsthand Experience with the Veterans Peer Corps Program

On Thursday August 16, 2018, I had the pleasure of attending the Veterans Peer Mentorship training hosted by the Department of Veteran Affairs. I was skeptical at first wondering, “What would I learn?”  I had all sorts of emotions running through my head. Having a service connected 100% disability; I felt inadequate and was concerned about trust issues. I thought to myself about all the fears and doubts I had when I finished my enlistment.  To my surprise I was greeted at the door in Seattle at the VFW by the keynote speakers, welcomed with breakfast, and started to feel relaxed. They even saved the first hour for everyone to get to know everyone. Tables were spaced out to allow room for veterans to form small groups and give each other breathing room. Some brought their service animals.

Throughout the day we got information and materials on leadership, TBI, MST, PTSD, as well as available resources like housing vouchers, stand down events and compensation. To my surprise, many of the attendees were employees that service veterans in their careers. What started out for me as information session soon became a day of healing, personal growth, and a mentorship.  At one point, I broke down and cried because the first time in many years I felt like I was at home. Peter Schmidt, Director of Behavioral Health for the Department of Veterans Affairs, took me aside and spent time with me listening to my concerns and points me in a direction that reminded me of who I was and my greatest strength as a United States Marine, perseverance. Jason Alves, program manager of the Veterans Conservation Corps, who happens to be my boss’s boss, gave me a hug and reminded me, “You are not alone. Welcome, brother.”

As the day went on, I met people from all branches of service who reminded me of what family is. We shared many similar interests and had the opportunity to open up and share some of our deepest fears.  Some of us cried, some of us laughed, but as we finished off the day with a closing ceremony, I felt empowered by my certificate, challenge coin, materials, t-shirt, water bottle I received.  This training stirred up a new passion I never knew was there. I am and now will always be a Life-Long learner and Veteran advocate.

Written by:

Christopher E. Rodriguez
United States Marine

What is a Veterans Peer Corps Mentor?

Many veterans have a need for support services, including peer-to-peer interaction and connections. Some veterans need to talk about their experiences with combat, deployment, or other situations experienced during their time in the military. Often, there is no better person to talk about these experiences with than another veteran. This is exactly what the WDVA Veterans Peer Corps does. A Veterans Peer Corps Member is a veteran, or a veteran’s dependent, who receives training and certification and then serves as a peer mentor by facilitating meetings and activities. The Veterans Peer Corps gives veterans places to gather, share experiences and stories, heal together, and ultimately create a sense of a Veteran Community within their own community.

Program objectives:

  • Build community-based programs that connect veterans from a variety of eras and backgrounds to each other
  • Create opportunities for veterans to gather and participate in activities
  • Provide training for veteran peer mentors and equip them with information about veterans resources in their communities
  • Empower veteran peer mentors to facilitate group and individual mentoring sessions
  • Build camaraderie and trust through ongoing coaching, training opportunities, and support forums
  • Veterans Peer Corps Mentors will work with veterans both in groups and individually to:
    • Create opportunities to give back and be involved with their communities
    • Create a safe local group setting where veterans can share military stories and experiences
    • Participate in activities together and find common interests
    • Assist with transition from the military to civilian life
    • Provide referrals to local, state, and federal benefits and resources


REGISTER NOW: VSO Professional Development Summit

Once a soldier: Living with PTSD

Written by Connie McDougall, my Edmonds News

Dan Overton works with military veterans for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

He offers a subtle but important alternative view of the condition.

“A lot of the people who work with vets — and many veterans — want to change the conversation about this form of mental illness that is PTSD to the less stigmatized name of Post Traumatic Injury,” he said. “Think about it: We all are injured from time to time. I was injured when I was rejected by my first crush. I was injured when my first dog died. We all have these injuries. In that respect, vets are no different. Their injuries, however, are more significant and unique to the military. They certainly don’t need to be labeled as mentally ill. They say, ‘Yeah I’ve got some issues but I’m not crazy.’”

Indeed, Overton noted that by developing symptoms, soldiers are reacting the way most people would to “awful” conditions.

“If every day you wake up and you know you’re going to be shot at, or attacked, that you’re going to kill someone, maybe kill an innocent, that you’re going to see dead bodies, and if that’s your day, every day, what does that do to you?”

He added that trauma doesn’t need to rise to a daily diet of violence. “It’s not usually a single event. It’s unpredictability, danger, a matter of survival.”

To read more of the my Edmonds News article, please visit:

To contact Dan Overton and for more details on our WDVA TBI Program, please email, call 360-725-2223 or visit


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After you’ve notified us that you’ve hired a veteran, we will contact you to arrange delivery of your YesVets decals, to be prominently and proudly displayed at your place of business.

Thank you for your support of those who served!

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