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Western Washington honors its veterans with virtual, drive-through events

Veteran organization are making adjustments through the pandemic both for resource response and Veterans Day.

TUKWILA, Wash. — Like so many, Veteran assistance organizations are facing challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This Veterans Day, many events that would usually welcome hundreds of people have gone virtual or drive-through. 

Gig Harbor is hosting an event at the Uptown Shopping Center. People can park and tune-in to KGHP radio to listen to a programming honoring veterans. 

The City of Kent is handing out free, red, white and blue face masks during a drive-through event at the Kent-Des Moines Park and Ride. 

Larry Alcantara, the chair of the governor's Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee, says there are approximately 600,000 veterans in Washington state. 

Alcantara said he met with Governor Inslee last week to discuss challenges the pandemic has created for veterans. Two key concerns were how high-risk vets often lack access to technology that would help ease anxiety around isolation and spots where veterans used to gather have been closed and are now facing financial struggles. 

Alcantara specifically mentioned the American Legion, a non-profit with locations across the country. 

Workers with the Snohomish County Veteran Services Program also express concerns over isolation. The program has had to cancel weekly in-person drop-ins, making it difficult to connect with at-risk veterans. 

The program is making weekly calls to veterans and they've sent more than 200 handwritten notes to remind vets they are a resource. 

Veteran Services Manager Cammy Hart-Anderson says every homeless veteran in Snohomish County who has reached out for assistance has been given shelter.

Hart-Anderson said veterans in Washington state who need assistance should call 211 to start their search for resources. 

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