The Veterans Memorial Museum in Chehalis is always a happening place for community events, from car shows to drive-in movie theaters.
But the work the museum does behind the scenes is the truly important stuff: connecting veterans to one another and to resources, and honoring veterans and their families through exhibits to uphold the mission, “They Shall Not Be Forgotten.”
For Veterans Day Thursday, the museum had free admission all day and a vendor fair to connect veterans with invaluable resources in their community.
“If we can get more information out that’s available, then we can get the resources that people need and deserve. Especially our veterans, which are probably one of our greatest sections of society,” said Veterans Memorial Museum Director Chip Duncan.
A normal Thursday is usually the slowest day with about 50 people maximum, Duncan said. This Thursday saw over 310 people.
People brought their families, young and old, to walk among the cabinets of local history. Some, Duncan said, were coming in off Interstate 5 to see the museum for the first time, and others were regulars. The best part of seeing the families, he said, is how proud it makes the kids and grandkids feel to know their family members served.
“When we think about a veteran, it's somebody who, without us asking, decided to give a portion of their life so that we have freedom. It's a gift that's given to us very, very freely. And unfortunately, I think we take it too cheaply at times. Veterans are our greatest resource,” Duncan said.
The following are local services available to veterans that attended Thursday’s resource fair:
All Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor and Lewis County residents are welcome to Peer Olympia, a free service offering peer-to-peer counseling and support groups, employment and housing support, referrals and coaching.
Veterans seeking to join or start a support group through Peer Olympia can do so at no cost by calling 360-522-9060 or email@example.com.
Veterans Memorial Museum Quilts of Valor
Quilts of Valor, a national organization with a local chapter out of the Veterans Memorial Museum, offers patriotic handmade quilts to service members and veterans. This service can be especially valuable to veterans suffering from PTSD or veterans who are senior citizens.
Contacts for the local chapter are Faye Matson at 360-262-3379 and Lynn Wiltzius at 360-748-3727.
Senior citizens represent 85% of the Lewis County veteran population. Access to the right medical equipment can greatly increase their quality of life. Both the Centralia and Chehalis Visiting Nurses stores offer free medical equipment supported by community donations to the thrift stores and monetary donations.
The Chehalis store is located at 435 NW Chehalis Ave. and the Centralia store is at 222 S. Pearl St.
Jacki Jewell, the Visiting Nurses Foundation executive director, can be reached at 360-623-1560
Lewis County Veterans Services
In Lewis County, veterans make up 10% of the population. The county’s veteran services made to support this large chunk of residents are extensive.
Veterans or veteran spouses can receive help from the Lewis County Veterans Relief Fund for a variety of services including funeral expenses, utilities, rent, gas and food vouchers, emergency medical expenses and more.
Services also include transportation, dental van pop-ups four times a year, housing support and much more.
To contact Heidi Palmer, the county veterans benefit specialist, call 360-740-01417.