A Message from the Director
These Are Our Heroes - Saying Thanks to Your WDVA Team
By WDVA Director, Alfie Alvarado-Ramos
I’m going to use my column in this edition of the Voices to talk about the most incredible group of employees any organization in the world has ever seen. I’m talking about your WDVA Team!
Since the beginning of March, team WDVA has been on a long and challenging journey to ensure veterans and families are served in this era of COVID-19. We’ve had ups, and we’ve had downs. But what I notice more than anything is the grit, determination and absolute commitment they have to Serving Those Who Served.
In our Veterans Homes and Pharmacy, they face the daily reality of COVID-19 and its impact on our most vulnerable veterans. Each day they leave their own families and the safety of home to provide health care, home cooked meals, enriching activities, custodial and laundry services, medications, and so many other essential services that make our Veterans Homes – a real HOME for Veterans. I’m proud of our team and want them to know how much I appreciate the sacrifices they’re making to support our Veterans and Families.
Our Veterans Services, Counseling and Wellness, Cemetery and Administrative Teams are also providing essential services and support to veterans and families living across Washington State. The Cemetery provides interment services by incorporating social distancing and works closely with families to ensure they follow the requirements outlined in the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Veterans Services and Counseling & Wellness continue to serve veterans using video technology to take claims for VA benefits such as disability compensation and pension, and to provide peer mentoring and counseling. Our administrative teams provide the supportive services needed to ensure orders for personal protective equipment are placed, checks are cut for veterans in the Veterans Estate Management Program or financial assistance programs, payments are made, mail is processed and employees are paid. It takes our entire agency working together to provide the support and services our Veterans and Families earned and deserve.
I know that we think of the Veterans in our care and in our communities as our heroes, but in this very moment all I can say is that Team WDVA are My Heroes! #TheseAreOurHeroes
Your WDVA Executive Team put together a video to say We Appreciate You to all of our
hard-working, dedicated staff. You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/5hAqCkNpkBQ
Washington Veterans Homes Receive Numerous Donations from the Community
We would like to thank the many community members who have donated masks and other items in the past few days. Our healthcare heroes cannot thank you enough and we are so appreciative to have such an amazing community of support! Thank You #WeLoveOurCommunity #TheseAreOurHeroes
Looking to Donate to Honored Residents and Staff of Washington State Veterans Homes?
We are lucky to have the most supportive community on the planet. We have been in awe for how many of you have reached out to find ways you can assist all of our heroes working every day to provide the highest level of care possible to our honored residents. We are welcoming donations to support our WDVA Team during the COVID-19 response and here are some items they could really use as they continue in Serving Those Who Served.
FACE SHIELDS & GOWNS: We are requesting for specific face shields and hospital gowns to be donated for staff working at our four veterans homes. Please inquire with point of contact for exact specifications needed.
OTHER ITEMS: We are also looking for items for our Transitional Housing Program residents, veterans without homes and to keep our Veterans Homes’ residents spirits up by keeping them engaged and entertained while our regular group activities have been suspended. Please keep in mind that in the current environment and in support of our infection controls efforts, we are currently only accepting new items.
SPECIFIC ITEMS NEEDED:
• Body lotion
• Shaving cream
• Cotton balls
• Deodorant - Men and Women
• Nail care sets/nail clippers large
• Shower Loofas
• Denture glue
• Denture cleaners
• Band-aids and other first aid items
|• Farming/garden boots (men and women)
• Seed starting kits
• Walking sticks
• Knitting, hand stitching, needle point
• Origami material w/instruction book
• Leather work & tools
• Adult coloring books
• Construction paper
• Tracing paper
• Charcoal pencils
• Lined paper
• Colored pencils
• Kites or kite building kits
• Knot tying books and materials
• Kits to make bird houses, bird and squirrel feeders
• Jewelry making material and the tools
• T-shirt making kits
• Any adult art kits
|• Puzzle books
• Crossword books
• Word search books
• Cheap Portable dvd players
• Puzzles/3D puzzles
• Car/plane models and model glue
• DVDs – all genres
• Basketball/soccer ball
• Bicycles, recumbent tricycles
• Bike racks
• Bike locks
• Tire air pumps
• Bike lights
• Adult bike helmets
• Reflector vests
• Exercise mats
• Other exercise equipment in good/usable condition
Please contact Rachel Roberts at email@example.com 360-999-8024 or Rafael Lozano at firstname.lastname@example.org 360-789-0807, if you are interested in helping out or if you have any questions.
2020 Memorial Day Observances Cancelled
Due to COVID-19 Visitation Restrictions, Memorial Day Observances will not take place this year at the State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake, the Soldiers Home in Orting, or the Washington Veterans Home in Port Orchard. Please stay tuned to our website and facebook pages for alternative online events that will be taking place on Memorial Day. We sincerely apologize for the inability to host these annual remembrance events and we appreciate your understanding.
New Procedures for Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake | Cemetery Gravesite Locator | Highway 902 Naming
The Washington Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) State Veterans Cemetery is open and will continue to provide interments for Veterans and eligible individuals. However, WDVA is continuing to adjust its services in light of the best practices urged by the CDC in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
As a result, on Monday, March 30, WDVA will only conduct committal services for groups of 10 or fewer immediate family members in accordance with state directives. Larger groups will be asked to reduce their numbers or be refused service. We appreciate your continued support in communicating and reinforcing this direction.
In an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health and safety of our employees conducting interments, the cemetery will not accept floral arrangements with interments. Families that wish to place a floral arrangement(s) (limit 2) may do so after 4:30pm on the day of the interment or any time thereafter. This change will be in effect until further notice.
READ MORE: https://www.dva.wa.gov/new-procedures-washington-state-veterans-cemetery-medical-lake
Opportunities Grow at Orting Veterans Farm
Spring has sprung, and ground has broken at the Orting Soldiers Home. Up until a few years ago, nearly three acres of available grounds were choked with invasive species of non-native plants. Now half-acre plots have been allocated for several uses—this an ideal opportunity for Veterans considering taking up farming. Even aspirational green thumbs are welcome.
An annual fee of only $50 entitles Veterans to use the land as they see fit, which includes irrigation, greenhouse, and cold storage. These resources allow the production of orchards or even some small livestock farming. A healthy support system is also provided, such as classes, a tool library, composting, and a vast network of other resources. Farmers will soon even be able to take their wares to local Farmer’s Markets!
Farmers have even sold shares at the beginning of the growing season on harvest speculation, which provides working capital when costs are highest. As part of the Veteran’s Conservation Corps, small businesses can receive assistance with grants. The farm has partnered with many organizations through sponsorships with Home Depot, WSU, Expedia, and so many others.
Veteran’s Farm Manager Carrie Little says, “the tradition of feeding those most in need will come full circle here. Inspiring new Veteran farmers into the myriad of possibilities will be endless.” But only a couple of plots remain.
If you would like more information contact Carrie Little; 253-258-1832 or at email@example.com
Cemetery Upgrades Complete at Washington Veterans Cemetery
Earlier this year, upgrades began to our Washington Veterans Cemetery in Port Orchard. This project completed the replacement of the irrigation system in the cemetery and expanded on the original work completed in the 2017-2019 biennium on the east side of the cemetery. The cemetery now has a fully functioning irrigation system throughout the entire cemetery, which will allow for better weed control and grounds maintenance.
Furthermore the old roads were removed and replaced with new paving throughout the cemetery. This will allow for safer driving and walking throughout the facility.
WDVA Military & Veteran Community Resources &
WDVA's New Podcast
No one said Staying Home and Staying Healthy would be easy!
Your WDVA has put together some resources to help you and your family cope with the incredibly unexpected changes that we're all experiencing. I hope you'll find some time to explore these and take advantage of the amazing work the Counseling & Wellness Team has done. If you have any resources that aren’t listed, please let us know and if you are interested in being a guest to discuss your WDVA program or another veteran resource, let us know and we will add you to the schedule.
Resources List - Military and Veteran Community Resources in Response to COVID-19
This guide lists resources specific to our Military and Veteran community that may help us to get through the COVID-19 crisis. This may be helpful not only to you and your family, but may also provide resources to help you better serve veterans in the Veterans Homes and Programs.
Introducing the New WDVA Podcast!
Peer Mentor Program Specialist Bryan Bales started a podcast at your Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. This new tool will help us reach veterans and their families with information and resources important to them. Our very episode features Program Manager Jason Alves (Vet Corps, Veterans Conservation Corps, Veterans Peer Corps) as they talk about Veteran cultural competency.
Do you have questions about the WDVA Podcast, or a topic you'd like us to cover? Please contact Bryan Bales at Bryan.Bales@dva.wa.gov. Thank you for listening! To view all of our podcasts, please visit: www.wdva.podbean.com
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 on Instagram
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
Thanking Our Veterans Homes Staff for All
of their Hard Work
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
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
MAY 2020 EVENTS
TO VIEW OUR MAY CALENDAR, CLICK HERE
WDVA Web Calendar: www.dva.wa.gov/calendar
WDVA Facebook Calendar: www.facebook.com/WSDVA/Events