141st - Return to Readiness Event Helps Veterans
By Capt. Larry Kohlman,, 141 ARW Public Affairs
/ Published May 16, 2008
Feb 2008 -- The Washington National Guard co-hosted the first Veteran Assistance Information Fair for Eastern Washington on 5 January 2008 at the Deel Community Center, Fairchild AFB. The event was a specialized "Return to Readiness" event that was organized to provide a one stop source of information to returning Washington State members of the Reserve and National Guard and their family members.
The fair was part of an overall goal to minimize the impact of war upon returning military members and their families; and to encourage them to use of all services and benefits which may assist them in creating the best post-deployment adjustment possible.
The Washington State National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Lowenberg's intent for this continuing program is to conduct a Return to Readiness / Family Activity Day that would provide service members and their families personalized customer service in understanding and filing for Veteran's benefits and entitlements.
Many times our service members return individually from a deployment, and it is not efficient or timely to hold mass briefings like other military services do, said Lt Col Mark Sweitzer, Department of Defense Manpower and Personnel, Joint Force Head Quarters Washington State. "We want to cater to them no mater what rotation cycle they are in," he said.
The fair was held as a causal style information booth format. This venue empowered the veterans to choose which services they deemed important for their needs, said Lt Col Sweitzer. We want to offer them the information that they need now and give them a source that they can turn to if they need future assistance.
"This is a grass roots effort to reach out to our veterans and provide the services that they deserve. Taking care of the mission is taking care of the Guardsman," said Lt Col Sweitzer. This is a great format to get this critical information out to the troops, he said.
This venue allowed individual members access to more than a dozen federal organizations, state agencies, local businesses and volunteer organizations.
The Spokane Veteran Outreach Center, a Veteran Administration agency was the other co-host for the event. "Many Guardsmen are unaware of their eligibility for extended benefits through the Veterans Administration," said Michael Ogle, MSgt, USAF (Ret), Re-adjustment Counseling Technician, Veterans' Outreach Center.
The Veterans Center provides counseling and benefits assistance. "We are available any time to assist veterans in finding the resources so they can receive their benefits," said Ogle.
For additional information you may reach Ogle directly at (509) 444-VETS (8387).