Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee to Hold Town Hall Meeting for Veterans

By Jacob Dimond / jake@yelmonline.com
Posted 8/2/22

Those who have served the nation in the Armed Forces and their families will have the opportunity to learn about veteran-related news, services and changes during a meeting at the Yelm Community …

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Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee to Hold Town Hall Meeting for Veterans

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Those who have served the nation in the Armed Forces and their families will have the opportunity to learn about veteran-related news, services and changes during a meeting at the Yelm Community Center on Aug. 10.

The event, hosted by the Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee (VAAC), will be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“This meeting is open to all veterans and their family members,” said Jerry Fugich, the chairman of the Veterans Legislative Coalition. “We’ve also invited representatives and their staff to attend, and the hope is that they’re there to listen to the issues that relate to the veterans.”

The town hall meeting will feature updates from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, the Federal VA Caregiver programs, the county’s Veterans Assistance Fund, WorkSource and the Suicide Prevention Program.

The VAAC invites all veterans from Thurston, Pierce, Lewis, and Mason counties to come to the event to learn about the various programs available to them.

“They’re all veteran communities. There’s a very strong presence of veterans on the I-5 corridor and it’s important for them to understand the benefits they’re entitled to,” Fugich said. “A lot of the retired veterans don’t realize the benefits they’re missing out on, so we’re hoping to provide some clarity.”

The VAAC provides information on various topics relating to veterans and their families, including resources for homeless veterans and suicide prevention. The committee also helps with the paperwork involved when a veteran or their spouse dies.

Its mission is to provide the former servicemen and servicewomen with the help they need and are entitled to. There will be three service officers at the town hall meeting to assist those in attendance with claims.

The meeting will be led by retired Marine Col. Jim Sims, who is a resident of the South Sound area.

Speakers will include Renita Walker and Michele Elske, of the VA Caregiver program; Rochelle Hicklin, with Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Survivor Out Reach; Rafael Lozano, with the WDVA programs; and Shellie Willis, who is the chair of the Women’s VAAC.



Frank Hicks, with the Tenino VFW, will also speak about potential aid for the city’s veterans, before Paul Herrera touches on the Global War on Terror, and its effect on the local communities.

Fugich said the Veterans Legislative Coalition is appreciative and thankful for the legislators who have worked with veteran-based organizations.

“A lot of us are Vietnam veterans,” Fugich said. “We weren’t treated very well when we got back and our elected officials are also treated that way. We have to talk to them like we want to be talked to and not make things ugly. That’s how things will get done.”

Fugich said the groups he belongs to aim to provide services to veterans, while also honoring local veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for their country.

Fugich has worked with the City of Tenino to establish a memorial wall for community members that served between the start of World War I and 2002.

Fugich said the Veterans Legislative Coalition is trying to establish a memorial wall on the Capitol grounds in Olympia for “those who’ve lost their lives due to the global war on terror.” Five members of the Yelm community have died in efforts to fight terrorism, according to Fugich.

“We don’t need to wait 50 years like they did for the World War II veterans to honor these men and service women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” Fugich said. “Honoring them is a big priority for us.”

He later added, “How we treat people is important.”

People can attend the meeting in person. It will also be streamed live on the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs’ Facebook page. To join the livestream, go online to www.facebook.com/WSDVA/videos.

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