Lynnwood veterans continue to have access to resources and support
By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff

The city of Lynnwood does not have a specific veterans assistance service but acts as a resource to connect the veterans’ population to a directory of programs and services.

“What the city offers is a connection to different veteran agencies,” explained Lynwood’s veteran initiatives spokesperson Gina Israel. “We offer veteran interaction and comradery.”

Although opportunities for Veteran meetings and social gatherings have been suspended, Lynnwood’s veteran support services are teleworking to continue to connect clients with benefits and resources.

“There’s still a lot of services for veterans in the area right now,” said Veterans Resource Center (VRC) Director Chris Szarek. “There’s hardly ever any shortage of things happening in the community for vets and they’re just happening in different ways now.”

Located in Edmonds Community College, the VRC supports the school’s veteran students. Szarek and the staff connect them with secondary education benefit support, along with additional Veteran Affairs (VA) resources and benefits.

On March 16 the VRC closed until further notice. To continue to connect with their veterans’ community, Szarek has been sending out an online bulletin board called the Plan of the Week. The weekly newsletter includes information on available opportunities and resources.

“Right now, it’s very important for people to check it. We’re just keeping everyone aware of what the changes are and what to expect,” said Szarek.

Szarek says that Snohomish County organizations focused on serving veterans are continuing to connect during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been working with our connections in the community the same as well always have,” said Szarek. “When a veteran needs help or service that we can’t provide, we have a really strong network we can still reach out to.”

“We’re all working on ways to do things in ways they’ve never been done before,” agreed Jerry Gadek from the Snohomish Veterans Assistance Program.

The Veterans Assistance Program provides emergency assistance to veterans in Snohomish County. They provide emergency financial assistance for discharged veterans, arranges for mental health and substance abuse assessment/treatment, and help veterans’ access to VA benefits.

“We haven’t seen much of anything stop. Our phone lines are steady, and our internet service has been steady,” said Gadek. “We’re just doing business differently.”

Amidst the health crisis, Gadek says the Veterans Assistance Program is especially focused on providing virtual support to connect veterans with emergency housing, health care, and mental health services. 

“We’re still strong and still having active conversations,” said Gadek.  “We’re trying to get as many veterans off the streets, that want to be off the streets, as possible and get them access to support services. A lot of them are a part of a vulnerable population.”

To subscribe to the VRC’s Plan of the Week newsletter, send an email request to chris.szarek@edcc.edu. For more information about the services the Snohomish Veterans Assistance Program provide, visit https://snohomishcountywa.gov/598/Veterans-Assistance-Program.

Erin Freeman

I graduated from Washington State University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in rhetoric and professional writing. I also received a minor in political science. I joined the Lynnwood Times in February of 2020. To me, community newspapers affirm a sense of community by connecting people through the coverage of local stories and current events.

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