VETERANS' RESOURCE GUIDE
A supplement to the Whidbey News-Times
Veterans Resource Guide 2015
Center aims to strengthen vet community More than 13,000 veterans live in Island County, the highest per capita in the state. While many of these veterans give back to the county in a variety of ways, others struggle financially and have yet to receive the benefits they have earned. More than 2,500 of the county's veterans are disabled veterans; more than 2,300 are younger veterans; and a high number suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the staff at the Whidbey Veterans Resource Center in Bayview. "It is often difficult to obtain assistance with VA benefits, medical enrollment and treatment, individual, family and community support, housing, basic needs, transportation, education and employment," said Patty Houts-Hussey with the VRC. Other service-related
conditions can include heart disease, brain trauma, diabetes, tinnitus and skin conditions, all due to their service responsibilities and many due to exposures to toxic chemicals such as Agent Orange and Gulf War unknowns. As a result, many veteran families struggle and are barely able to meet their living expenses, Houts-Hussey said. WVRC works with veterans and their families to receive the benefits they deserve after having served in the military, and to connect with local, state and national resources. WVRC services include assisting with VA claims by a trained veteran service officer on site, providing info and referrals and enabling disabled veterans to use the Oak Harbor pool free of charge. The center also orga-
WVRC veteran services:
n Peer support groups n Benefit application assistance n Veterans swim free program n Annual Stand Down event coordination n Help accessing discharge documents n Emergency and housing providers on site n Agency referral
nizes the annual Stand Down which will be Aug. 1, 2015. This event is open to all veterans and their families, and offers free food, clothing, live music and access to VA experts who can advise on medical, employment and legal matters. Weekly support groups are available for men and women at 5 p.m. Tuesdays and for women alone 5 p.m. Mondays. "In these groups, we share our great days, memories,
our sorrows, bad days, laughs, hugs and tears," HoutsHussey said. "We try to provide a place for vets to gather, get support, talk, and to find out how to help each other and other vets and our communities." The center is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays at the Bayview American Legion, 14096 Highway 525 inn Langley. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-331-8081.
WHIDBEY VETERANS RESOURCE CENTER Mission: Connect, Serve, and Educate Veterans and their Families
Information and Referrals Assistance with obtaining VA and other Benefits Support Groups Community Events & Programs WVRC Welcomes, Honors Veterans, their Families and Communities Please call for hours, services, and ways to get involved
14096 Hwy. 525 Bayview â€˘ PO Box 85, Freeland, WA 98249 Donations to WVRC, a 501c3 organization, are tax deductible
Veterans Resource Guide 2015
DAV provides bus services, claims help Celebrating 40 years on Whidbey Island this year, the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 47 has a long history of serving veterans. And over the years the organization has expanded its ability to provide assistance on some specific types of aid for servicemen and women. "We do a lot," said Steve Deavilla, chapter commander. Anyone with a disability caused by military service can submit claims through the DAV's veteran service officers who walk them through the process. Not only does the group assist discharged and retired military personnel, but also their widows and families. From January to November in 2014, the DAV assisted 515 vets with claims, filled out 547 forms, put in 1,600 hours of volunteer assistance and transported 685 veterans
DAV veteran services:
n Free shuttle to VA hospital in Seattle n Claim processing n Vocational assistance n GI Bill and education n Memorial Plaza to Seattle at no charge. "They're a godsend," said Gerry Pfannenstiel, a former service officer who now works as the veteran service coordinator for Island County. "It's amazing what they can take care of." In addition to processing claims, the group offers assistance with educational services and the GI Bill, along with vocational assistance for vets seeking employment or training. One of their most suc-
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File photo The Veterans Memorial Plaza in Coupeville at the county offices is one of the Disabled American Veterans many projects.
cessful programs is the free shuttle for veterans to visit the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Seattle. A new van was purchased in November with the assistance of Island County, and five volunteer drivers run to Seattle most weekdays. Formerly located on Seaplane Base, the DAV now
has offices in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7392 at 3037 Goldie Road, Oak Harbor. A service officer is available 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Walk-ins are welcome, no appointments necessary. Contact: 360-257-4801.
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Veterans Resource Guide 2015
Groups partner to help homeless vets The top priority for the Opportunity Council in Oak Harbor is to address and prevent veteran homelessness. "Overall it's a housing stabilization and self sufficiency program," said Monica Lopez, the organization's veteran services and homeless outreach coordinator. "The main thing is housing and all the benefits trickle down from there." The program, funded primarily through the Supportive Services program for Veteran Families provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, aims to address the county's homeless population, prevent veterans from losing their homes and rehouse them quickly if they are displaced. While Lopez's program is able to assist the broader homeless population, she is tasked to look specifically for
Council, VFW services:
n Rapid rehousing n Homeless prevention n Work clothes n Gas vouchers n Household goods n Case management
veterans who may be eligible for services that could stabilize their lives, according to Lisa Clark, Opportunity Council director. A common misconception, Clark said, is that to qualify for these state-funded county services a veteran needs to be retired. "To qualify applicants, need to simply have served in the armed forces active duty," Clark said. "In many cases, veterans may not know they are eligible for certain ben-
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File photo Myron and Debbie Brundage ride with the VFW Riders, a group that partners with the Opportunity Council and raises money to assist homeless veterans.
efits or they forget to apply." In addition to serving the service population in Oak Harbor, Lopez said she is willing to travel to the south end or over to the Stanwood Camano Resource Center to meet with Island County residents who need assistance. Lopez also partners with other Opportunity Council and county programs that can help with utilities or medical coverage. While the program has grown significantly over the last two years, the organization plans to have their second annual veterans benefit fair in March or April to help spread the word. In efforts to provide housing-related assistance, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Motorcycle Riders have also stepped in to help. Last year, the VFW Riders raised a total of $1,000 for veterans assistance, which
was donated to Lopez's program. Lopez said there are strict guidelines associated with their state and federal funding and that the no-stringsattached donations allow her to help with other types of necessities. "In a crisis situation when food and shelter are the main focus, figuring out how to get a tank of gas for a job interview, specialized work clothing and shoes to start their job, fees to renew a drivers license or career license and basic hygiene items becomes a barrier to stabilization," said Myron Brundage, senior vice commander the VFW post. Those interested in donating to the VFW Riders can visit Post 7392 on Goldie Road in Oak Harbor or call 360-675-4048. The Opportunity Council can be reached at 360-679-6577.
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Veterans Resource Guide 2015
Island County uses levy funds for veterans Jerry Pfannenstiel has been helping veterans for years. A veteran himself, Pfannenstiel served for several years as a veteran service officer before taking his role as Island County's Veteran Services Coordinator. His number one goal is to help veterans however he can. "I can meet anyone anywhere they need to meet," Pfannenstiel said. Funded by a veteranspecific levy through Island County, the program is run by Pfannenstiel and oversight is proved by the board of commissioners. Before 2009, 10 or fewer veterans were served each year. In comparison, the Island County program has served more than 100 in 2013 and 2014, Ptannenstiel said. The Veteran’s Assistance Program, formerly the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Relief
Act, provides emergency funding to indigent or struggling veterans and their families to pay for food, rent or mortgage, utilities, medical expenses and miscellaneous bills, such as the cost of burial. "We're taking care of not only younger vets, but we're helping elderly vets who need to better their quality of life somehow," Pfannestiel said. "We're able to step in and provide services and get them through." Through the program, Pfannenstiel can also provide help in partnership with American Legion Post 207 on Camano Island and is able to "meet" with Camano residents via the county's video conferencing technology. "None of my stuff fits in the box," Pfannenstiel said. The county's money also assisted the Disabled American Veterans with
Island County services: n Food and gas n Rental assistance n Utilities in danger of disconnect n Medical assistance n Employment assistance n VA liaison n Service referral
$10,000 for purchasing their new van, used to transport veterans to the VA hospital in Seattle. To be eligible, veterans must have served under honorable conditions, show appropriate discharge documents, have been a continual resident of Washington State for one year, provide proper identification, and be homeless or have income at 150 percent of the poverty level. Formerly located in the Human Services office in Coupeville, Island County
Veteran Services is now located in the Oak Harbor Family Resource Center at 1791 NE First Ave. Pfannenstiel maintains regular hours 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. but can meet according to appointment. "It's all about just helping," Pfannenstiel said. "We've got something good going on here." For more information, please call or email Pfannenstiel at 360-678-7805 or email@example.com. wa.us
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Veterans Resource Guide 2015
Clubs and organizations directory American Legion: Focusing on service to veterans, their families and communities. George Morris Post 129, Oak Harbor, 690 SE Barrington Drive, 360-6756752; South Whidbey Post 141, Bayview, 14096 State Highway 525; 360-321-5696.
Disabled American Veterans Chapter 47: Provides assistance to all disabled veterans and their families. Service officers available five days of the week with offices at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7392, 3037 Goldie Road. Walk-ins are welcome, no appointments necessary; 360-257-4801. Fleet Reserve Association: Oak Harbor Branch 97, a community for the Sea Services including U.S. Navy, Marines and Coast Guard personnel. 311 SE Eighth Ave., Oak Harbor;
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VFW Ladies Auxiliary, Oak Harbor: Provides military care packages, support for veterans‚ hospitals, community service, cancer aid and research assistance, Senior Christmas luncheon and Easter egg hunt. Auxiliary‚ junior girls unit for ages 5-16. Call 675-4048 or visit www.vfwpost7392.org
File photo Whidbey Island veterans are honored each year in the Memorial Day parade.
360-675-3414. Ladies Auxiliary Fleet Reserve Association: Branch 97 open to the wives and widows, mothers, sisters, daughters and granddaughters of active or retired members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Assists needs of Fleet Reserve Association, its
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members and their families; 360-675-3414. Marine Corps League: Megan McClung Detachment 1210 promotes the ideals of American freedom and Marine history, as well as assisting Marines, chaplains and other associated service men and women. Meets 6 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club, 3634 E. Brookshill Road, Langley. www.mcleague.com Navy Seabee Veterans of America, Island X-5 Whidbey: An organization for veterans of the Naval Construction Forces and the Civil Engineer Corps, located at 1962 N. Island View Road, Oak Harbor; 360-675-2523. Oak Harbor Area Navy League: Chartered in 1956, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and supporting the Navy and the Seas Services through community outreach and annual events and awards including the Sailor/Marine of the Year. Information: www.oakharbornavyleague.org Retired Officers' Wives: Strictly social organization. The group's purpose is to acquaint the wives of the retired officers in this area; 360-679-4527.
VFW Post 7392, Oak Harbor: Provides scholarships, essay contests, funeral services on request for military veterans, job placement assistance, promotes patriotism, VA benefit assistance, distributes holiday baskets, and provides phone cards to deployed service members;. Contact: 360-675-4048 or www.vfwpost7392.org VFW Post 7482, Clinton: Meets first Monday of the month, 7 p.m., Clinton Progressive Hall. Provides services to veterans and their families as well as to the community. Contact: 360-341-3522. Veterans Resource Center: Provides veteran service outreach and peer support groups with regular hours 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays. 14096 Hwy. 525, Bayview. Contact: 360-3318081. www.whidbeyvrc.org The Whidbey Island Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (WICMOAA): The local affiliate of MOAA is open to all retired or active duty officers of the Uniformed Services of the United States. Chapter meetings are the second Thursday of the month at the Whidbey Island NAS Officers' Club. Contact David G. Cohick for more information at 360-675-5171 or dgcohick@ comcast.net
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