Many resources for veterans at Everett YMCA open house

Marine Corps veteran Dan Hults served in Vietnam in 1965 and ‘66. He has type 2 diabetes, one of many diseases the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes as being linked to exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

Since joining the Everett Family YMCA last June, Hults said his disease and overall health are greatly improved. He works out most weekdays.

“All my joints used to hurt. Now they don’t hurt nearly as much,” the Everett man said. “I’m diabetic, one of the presumed diseases from exposure to Agent Orange. It’s been a real benefit to me, realizing how exercise has impacted my health.”

Hults, 71, wants to share that message at an Everett Y open house for veterans scheduled for noon-2 p.m. Saturday. He helped organize the event, along with Kristy Kentch, the YMCA of Snohomish County’s membership director.

Saturday’s event will include Everett Y tours, membership information, and a chance to talk with a representative of the Everett Vet Center about resources it offers.

There will be information about federal VA disability compensation for conditions linked to military conflicts, including service in Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan. Hults, who worked as a veteran service officer with the American Legion, has helped people navigate the thorny process of qualifying and applying for those benefits.

Shawn Baza, office manager of the Everett Vet Center, will be on hand Saturday to talk with veterans. “What we do at the Vet Center is mainly counseling,” Baza said. “We work with combat veterans who have post- traumatic stress disorder, those who have experienced military sexual trauma and we do marriage counseling.”

The center provides group therapy for those who served in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. It also links veterans with agencies that help with housing and employment, Baza said.

Kentch said veterans receiving disability benefits related to their service will be offered a 50 percent reduction in YMCA of Snohomish County membership fees. “Shawn will be able to help with that,” she said.

Saturday’s event will include an hour-long stress-relief yoga class at 1 p.m., she said The veterans open house will be a first, but if it’s a success Kentch said the Y might repeat it.

Recalling his military service, Hults said he was at Chu Lai, once a U.S. Marine and Army base in central Vietnam, and at Da Nang.

“I turned 21 on Easter Sunday in Vietnam,” said Hults, who later worked for Washington state in child support enforcement.

As a young Marine, he had no idea about the effects of Agent Orange. “We didn’t know this stuff was out there,” he said. “Part of my time over there, I was on a river barricade preventing anyone from going down the river into Da Nang. When it got hot, we would go swimming. If it rained, it washed Agent Orange right into the river.”

Working out at the Y helps not only for physical health, but to counter isolation.

“We have community,” Kentch said. “We’re lucky Dan brought the need to our attention. He’s excited to share his story to help other veterans.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Veterans event at Everett Y

The Everett Family YMCA will host an open house for military veterans noon-2 p.m. Saturday. There will be Y tours, membership information,and literature about federal Veterans Affairs compensation linked to service-related medical conditions. The Everett Y is at 2720 Rockefeller Ave.

The YMCA Healthy Kids Day is 10 a.m.-1 p.m. April 30. There will be free activities including games, cooking and safety demonstrations, crafts and tips for being active at these Y branches: Everett Family YMCA, 2720 Rockefeller Ave.; Marysville Family YMCA, 6420 60th Drive NE; Monroe/Sky Valley Family YMCA, 14033 Fryelands Blvd.; Mukilteo Family YMCA, 10601 47th Place W.; Mill Creek Family YMCA, 13723 Puget Park Drive, Everett.

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