MILL CREEK — A veterans services post is coming to Mill Creek, but it aims to serve more than just its own.
Mill Creek AMVETS Post 2018 held its first organizational meeting Jan. 29 at City Hall and selected its leaders.
“Mill Creek didn’t have any veterans group officially connected with them, so we wanted to make sure it happened,” said newly appointed Post Cmdr. Paul Fredericksen.
The choice of AMVETS (American Veterans) avoids stepping on the toes of nearby American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, Fredericksen said. But it also opens to the door to more people being able to take part in a local veteran service organization.
AMVETS is open to all veterans who have been honorably discharged from the U.S. military, regardless of where or when that service took place. That includes the National Guard and Reserves. Active duty military are welcome as well.
The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars are a common presence in other local communities.
“There were some veterans that weren’t eligible to join either one,” Fredericksen said. “So (AMVETS) is more inclusive that way.”
There are no other AMVETS posts in Snohomish County, Island, Skagit or Whatcom counties. The nearest is in Tacoma.
So while the post fills a gap in Mill Creek, veterans from throughout the area are welcome to join.
Already the group has members from Bothell, Snohomish, Lynnwood, Edmonds — “all around this area,” Fredericksen said. “We want to represent Snohomish County, and north, too, if anybody wants to come down by us.”
The group is completing the formal steps of becoming official. About 16 people were at the first meeting. Around 20 have signed on as members, with more expressing interest.
Members meet again March 5, when they hope to pick a name.
“Each post has the option of naming the post after a deceased veteran — typically a Medal of Honor recipient,” said Chuck Turbak, the post’s public relations officer. “We have no way of knowing if there is such a soul from Mill Creek.”
He hopes people will respond with their ideas.
The new post is just the latest effort to extend from the work of a group of about 15 veterans who have helped the city put on its Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies and parades. There also is a Veterans Monument at Library Park.
The most recent parade revealed a general need for a Mill Creek-based group that could tie together veteran- and military-related efforts.
“Like with the parade, we had to go to the VFW in Lynnwood and ask, ‘Do you want to march in our parade?’” Turbak recalled. For a focus on World War II veterans, the committee had to enlist well-known veterans from outside the city to take part. A Gold Star family entry saw Turbak as the lone local; his father died on Omaha Beach on D-Day during World War II.
“There are people like myself out there,” said Turbak, who served three tours of Vietnam with the Marine Corps. “The big question is, how do we reach them?”
Many of its members already do so through other affiliations, so they expect it to be a smooth transition.
Fredericksen is a regular volunteer at Hero’s Cafe, and is a member of the Lynnwood VFW and the Vietnam Veterans of America Sno-King Chapter, which meets in Mountlake Terrace. He has attended the Lynnwood American Legion, though technically he’s still a member of the Legion in his hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The retired firefighter moved with his wife to Mill Creek so they could be near grandchildren.
He never worried about leaving.
“I’m lucky, I have three families,” he said, noting the extended camaraderie that exists among firefighters and veterans.
He is glad to bring that family feeling home for Mill Creek veterans.
“That’s pretty much what it means to me,” he said.
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org, 425-339-3432
To get involved or learn more about Mill Creek AMVETS Post 2018, email email@example.com or fill out the online form at tinyurl.com/MillCreekAMVETS.
Next meeting: 6 p.m. March 5 at Mill Creek City Hall, 15728 Main St.