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Military vets will get local support

Military veterans no longer have to dial the phone or trek to neighboring communities to find a sympathetic ear.

Beginning next month, Kathy Nylen – a representative of the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs – will visit Enumclaw every Monday to help link vets in need to a variety of resources. On an appointment-only basis, she will help Plateau veterans who qualify for federal, state and county benefits.

“My goal has been to get out to the rural areas of King County,” said Nylen, who has spent the past six months shuttling between Auburn, Renton and downtown Seattle.

Beginning April 6, Nylen will be available each Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Enumclaw City Hall. Those wishing to schedule an appointment can call 206-473-1078 or e-mail kathyn@dva.wa.gov.

The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs and King County Veterans Services have been partnering to serve veterans and families in King County for more than a decade. The outreach program was made possible when voters authorized a levy a couple of years ago, allocating money for programs aimed at serving veterans.

In February, WDVA received a $122,000, one-year grant from King County Housing and Community Development to identify resources to provide employment and housing services to veterans and their families in Enumclaw, Redmond, Bellevue, Issaquah, Renton, Auburn and Federal Way. The grant can be extended for up to two additional years.

Nylen said she can help veterans and their spouses with a wide range of services.

For example, she spent time last week with a vet who has been unemployed eight months. He had a solid job offer, but could not accept the position because he lacked the funds necessary to get his commercial driver’s license reissued. Nylen was able to link the vet with the right resource and the money was made available.

Some veterans, she said, simply don’t know they’re eligible for benefits. There are plenty of Vietnam-era vets, Nylen explained, who qualify for financial assistance due to health troubles stemming from exposure to Agent Orange. Benefits can range from a little more than $100 a month to perhaps $2,500, depending upon the disability.

Other support services offered through Nylen’s office include rental assistance, help with medical needs, emergency food, transportation or child care. Work-related assistance is available to cover items like work clothing, union dues, licenses or other expenses that create barriers to employment.

Nylen’s services are available to those who meet all three of the following qualifications:

• veterans of any branch of the U.S. armed forces, along with family members 18 and older, who are residents of King County;

• those with a household income less than, or equal to, 175 percent of the federal poverty level; and

• all who can demonstrate barriers to stable employment and housing.

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