A Message from the Director
WDVA's Deputy Director is Retiring
By WDVA Director, Alfie Alvarado-Ramos
Gary Condra has served veterans, their families, and the staff members of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs since 1998. Prior to joining WDVA, Gary served 20 years in the United States Army Medical Service Corps and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
He joined WDVA as the Associate Superintendent of the Soldiers Home, then became the agency’s Chief Financial Officer. Asking him to serve as our Deputy Director when I was appointed as Director in 2013 was one of the best decisions I made in state government. In addition to being DD, he also oversees the State Veterans Homes Program and has helped to ensure our Homes provide outstanding care to each and every veteran and family member!
During his time at WDVA, Gary has led many successful projects including the design and construction of 2 State Veterans Homes and our first State Veterans Cemetery. His devotion to this agency and its mission is unparalleled and his guidance will be missed. We will bid Gary farewell on January 30 at a retirement celebration and invite you to join us!
Join the guest of honor, along with friends and family members, to celebrate Mr. Condra’s successful state career and toast his transition to retirement.
January 30, 2020, 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Location: Tacoma Country & Golf Club,
13204 Country Club Drive SW, Lakewood, WA 98498
Attire: Business Casual
Cost: $40 (RSVP required by Jan. 24, please contact Rene Morales to RSVP: ReneM@dva.wa.gov)
RSVP/More Questions? ReneM@dva.wa.gov
Census 2020 is Coming
Once every 10 years, the U.S. Constitution requires a full count of the population to reapportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. That exercise — the U.S. Census — begins in a little over a month (mid March 2020). Washington is working hard to ensure the state’s residents are fully counted.
For the first time, the primary method of response to the census will be electronic. The U.S. Census Bureau expects at least 70% of the population will complete census forms online.
We need your help to spread the word that the process is quick, easy and safe and to help people overcome internet access or digital literacy issues.
Why is the census important? Census results drive decisions that will affect economic investments in our state and our representation in Congress until 2031.
Census results determine congressional representation and the number of our Electoral College votes and are used to draw boundaries for state and local election districts. In the last census, Washington gained one seat in Congress, bringing our total to 10.
The federal government also uses census numbers to distribute more than $800 billion to states, counties and cities for education and health programs, highways, roads and bridges, water and sewage systems, and other projects vital to our health and well-being. Nonprofits and businesses use the data to help determine where to build health care facilities, child care and senior centers, grocery stores and new factories.
In 2016, Washington received $16.7 billion of these funds — or $2,319 per person, including:
• Nearly $700 million in bridge and highway maintenance and construction
• $8.5 billion for health programs
• $2.4 billion for education
• $1.2 billion for housing
• $550 million for rural assistance programs
Based on these numbers, the state would lose up to $5.8 million for every 100 households missed, which would affect its ability to adequately support children, veterans, senior citizens and low-income families.
READ MORE AT: https://www.dva.wa.gov/directors-message-census-2020
For more information and to receive promotional materials, please visit https://ofm.wa.gov/washington-data-research/population-demographics/decennial-census/2020-census-everyone-counts/2020-census-resources/2020-census-promotional-materials
State listens to, then amplifies military spouse's difficulties in finding good jobs
“I considered leaving the military because my wife couldn’t pursue her career.”
~ A testimonial from a Washington-based naval petty officer.
Lack of childcare and employer bias are the top issues among many stopping military spouses from achieving more successful careers, according to a report released today by the Washington departments of Veterans Affairs and Employment Security.
The report is the result of input and insights gathered during a statewide listening tour of Washington’s six major military installations. The tour also provided first hand accounts that a spouse’s employment satisfaction directly impacts a service member’s decision to stay in the military.
“The fact that we risk losing service members due to the lack of opportunity for their spouses makes this a national security issue. These spouses are sacrificing for their country alongside their partners and they deserve our attention,” said WDVA director Alfie Alvarado-Ramos.
Despite it being a time of historically low unemployment, military spouses still face significant barriers to success in their careers. Active-duty spouses have a 24 percent unemployment rate. Further, 56 percent of military spouses report being underemployed, and military spouses earn 27 percent less on average than their non-military spouse peers.
ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine said, “We can and must do better for our military families. This is the very definition of a win-win opportunity: We get to support those serving our country with the dignity of work while businesses get dedicated and talented employees.”
Session attendees identified and discussed multiple challenges faced by military spouses and ideas for improvement. The issues and recommendations from participants were grouped into four categories in the report:
Employer relationships and bias;
Credential portability; and
This work is the result of an Executive Order signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in May of 2019, which extended Washington state’s support for veterans and transitioning service members to include military families.
The recommendations from listening session participants will be forwarded to policymakers at the local, state and federal level for their consideration.
Find the complete report and all supporting materials, including recommendations and links to the session videos, on the www.dva.wa.gov/militaryfamilies website.
For more information on this event, please contact MarkS@dva.wa.gov
Holiday Party at the Walla Walla Veterans Home
The American Red Cross sponsored the 2019 Holiday Party for our veterans at the Walla Walla Veterans Home.
The American Red Cross also partnered with a local church, Emmanuel Lutheran, to donate and wrap gifts for each and every resident. Santa and Mrs. Claus were also present to help pass out gifts. What a wonderful time for giving and spending quality time with our community partners.
The veterans really enjoyed the party! #WeLoveOurCommunity
Learn more about the Walla Walla Veterans Home by visiting:
Transitional Housing Program & Port Orchard Veterans Home Participate in Gift Exchange and Holiday Fun
Washington Veterans Home in Port Orchard and the Building 10 Transitional Housing Program were cheerful and merry during their holiday party and gift exchange.
We would like to thank everyone who assisted with donating gifts, preparing the event and for all of the Building 10 staff for their hard work in putting this together.
PHOTO ALBUM: https://www.flickr.com/…/98326753@…/albums/72157712292700073
Learn more about the Washington Veterans Home in Port Orchard by visiting:
Show Your Patriotism - WA State Patriotic Day & Massing of the Colors
For more information and to register, contact Carroll Dickson at Carrolldickson@comcast.net
Holiday Giving at the Spokane Veterans Home
The spirit of giving was alive and well at the Spokane Veterans Home. The home recently had a very special visit from Mountain West Bank in Idaho who came in and donated a 65 inch TV, wall bracket for the TV, dozens of movies, 100 Santa hats and even helped the veterans play bingo.
After the Mountain West Bank visit, a local VFW group also joined in the giving spirit by providing veterans with holiday bags and personally handing them out and thanking our Veterans. After all of the visits, the 2019 Spokane Veterans Home Holiday Christmas Party began with local Air Force service members assisted the veterans with opening gifts and providing good times! We would also like to thank Santa for stopping in and saying hello! #WeLoveOurCommunity
Learn more about the Spokane Veterans Home by visiting:
Washington Soldiers Home Annual Holiday Party
The Washington Soldiers Home recently held their annual Christmas Party with Santa, helpful elves and numerous community volunteers. Every resident received a holiday sack of presents and goodies that were donated by several Veteran Service Organizations and volunteers.
We would like to thank everyone who made this event a possibility and for adding some holiday cheer to our veterans during this time.
PHOTO ALBUM: https://www.flickr.com/…/98326753@…/albums/72157712290943761
Learn more about the Washington Soldiers Home by visiting:
Now Hiring at Four Veterans Homes Across the State
Are you a CNA, RN or LPN looking for a career that allows you to give back to your community and provide compassionate care to Veterans?
WDVA Social Media: Now on Instagram
YOUR Washington Department of Veterans Affairs is expanding our social media reach with a BRAND NEW Instagram Profile. Look out for photos of veterans and their families, WDVA Program Brochures, upcoming major events and more to be shared on our new Instagram profile.
Make sure you follow us on Instagram and please continue to let us know what content you would like to see so we can continue spreading the awareness on your earned benefits and available resources. #ServingThoseWhoServed www.instagram.com/wsdva or just search for WA Dept of Veterans Affairs
Commissary, Military Service Exchange, and MWR access extended to more Veterans beginning January
New law provides eligible Veterans and Primary Family Caregivers with access to DoD and Coast Guard commissaries, exchanges, and morale, welfare, and recreation retail services.
According to the Department of Defense, starting Jan. 1, 2020, all service-connected Veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war (POW), and individuals approved and designated as the primary family caregivers of eligible Veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) can use commissaries, exchanges, and morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) retail facilities, in-person and online.
For more information regarding these privileges and access to military installations, visit http://www.militaryonesource.mil/expanding-access
Who is eligible Jan. 1, 2020?
- Purple Heart recipients
- former prisoners of war
- Veterans with 0-90% service-connected disability ratings
(For former service members who have not yet sought disability compensation from VA, visit https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/)
Medal of Honor recipients and Veterans with 100% service-connected disability ratings are already eligible under existing DOD policy.
On Jan. 1, individuals approved and designated as the primary family caregiver of an eligible veteran under the PCAFC will be eligible for these privileges.
For information about primary family caregivers in the PCAFC, visit https://www.caregiver.va.gov/.
On Jan. 1, Veterans eligible solely under this act who are eligible to obtain a Veteran Health Identification Card must use this credential for in-person installation and privilege access. The card must display the Veteran’s eligibility status (i.e., PURPLE HEART, FORMER POW or SERVICE CONNECTED). Apply here: https://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/vhic/index.asp.
READ MORE: https://www.dva.wa.gov/commissary-military-service-exchange-and-mwr-access-extended-more-veterans-beginning-january
Photo Courtesy of mcchord.af.mil
WDVA Hot Jobs - APPLY NOW
More Info: Please visit Employment to see the opportunities that we have!
You can also contact a recruiter at Karimah.Ly@dva.wa.gov
View our full list of Veterans Day Events at https://www.dva.wa.gov/washington-state-veterans-day-events-observances
Hired a Veteran? Sign Up Today at www.YesVets.org
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!
Visit www.YesVets.org for more information and to signup!
View our WDVA Calendar to stay updated with upcoming events to attend
FEBRUARY 2020 EVENTS
TO VIEW OUR FEBRUARY CALENDAR, CLICK HERE
WDVA Web Calendar: www.dva.wa.gov/calendar
WDVA Facebook Calendar: www.facebook.com/WSDVA/Events