LYNNWOOD, Wash. — On the fourth Tuesday of every month, a group of friends, family and supporters gather to honor US Military veterans at Heroes' Cafe, an outreach event in Lynnwood.
The event takes place at Lynnwood's New Life Church at 6519 188th St. SW.
The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Space Force are all represented. Director Gary Walderman says it's a place for veterans from different walks of life to come together and share stories, resources and a meal.
“We have breakfast and a lunch for them for free and when we noticed some of the vets asked if they could take some extra food with them, we knew we needed more outreach,” said Walderman.
From there, a local food bank also got involved and now routinely shows up to offer groceries to go for veterans in need.
Walderman says it was the disturbing trend of veteran suicides that got him and some other veterans talking about creating a support group.
“So many of these veterans went through traumatic things and they need the support of other people who had similar experiences and can help them heal,” said Walderman.
According to the United Service Organizations, some branches of the Armed Forces are experiencing the highest rate of suicides since before World War II. Walderman says he wants Heroes' Cafe to be a self propelling lifeline where veterans help veterans. Providing them a safe and supportive place to bond is at the center of his mission.
At this month's gathering, more than 150 veterans gathered to share a meal and pasteries from the Bakers Angels.
A local student also showed up to inspire local veterans with some good news.
Moses “Mojo” Martin is a local high school football player at Edmonds-Woodway and has dedicated his senior season to who he says are his heroes.
“I don’t think my generation really gives enough credit to our veterans. I was thinking about what cause I could get involved with in my final season and the military is the first thing that I thought of. I’m not just playing for a win anymore, I’m out there trying to support these veterans and raise money,” Martin said.
Martin set up a GoFundMe page where he is asking for donations for “every tackle or quarterback sack.” The linebacker wears #9 and has already raised $3,000 for Heroes' Cafe.
His father Earl Martin says “Mojo” is honoring veterans because he truly does look up to them.
“That’s also a part of our Native American tradition in our family — to respect our elders. Moses has been asking them for guidance his whole life so now he is honored to give back to them,” Earl Martin said.