By Contributing Editor Blair Drake
The Olympic Peninsula (Wash.) Chapter helped to ensure local homeless veterans could maintain connection to vital resources and support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The chapter purchased several computers and tablet devices for residents at Sarge’s Place and Hobucket House so veterans could connect with their health care providers and case managers virtually. The North Olympic Regional Veteran's Housing Network (NORVHN), a non-profit serving homeless veterans of Clallam and Jefferson counties, operates the two housing facilities.
The Olympic Peninsula Chapter used grant money totaling more than $3,000 from The MOAA Foundation as well as $1,850 in donations from chapter members to purchase the computers, tablets, and necessary components.
The chapter has been assisting homeless veterans through its support of NORVHN for a decade.
According to Cmdr. Lorri Gilchrist, USN (Ret), chapter secretary and past president, the chapter has donated money, dishes, paint, and other needed supplies routinely since 2011. The chapter used a 2019 grant from The MOAA Foundation to purchase a commercial freezer and furniture for Sarge’s Place. Additionally, members collect and donate used items for The Attic, a second-hand store that benefits Sarge’s Veterans support and gives job opportunities for veterans.
Providing this support has been important to the chapter because of the need for these services locally.
“This is a very rural and remote area, so obtaining services for training, medical, emotional, or other issues is difficult,” said Gilchrist. “There is not enough housing, jobs, or support specifically for veterans within our community. Per capita, [Clallam County has] the highest number of veterans within Washington State and the highest number of homeless veterans within the state.”
She added that this support helps the chapter fulfill its mission to aid servicemembers and veterans.
“To assist these veterans, we need to do something concrete, so we’ve chosen to support NORVHN and their efforts to house veterans, get them off the streets, and get them the mental, physical, and emotional support they need through VA and local services. It’s a well-planned and well-thought-out service.”
This effort is one of numerous ways the chapter gives back to the military community. It also supports the local Civil Air Patrol squadron, the Port Angeles High School Junior ROTC program, and Wreaths Across America.
Blair Drake is a contributing editor for MOAA and lives in Souderton, Pa. She previously served on the editorial team of Military Officer magazine for nine years.