New Lynnwood resource center opens to assist veterans

LYNNWOOD — Some 57,000 veterans who live in Snohomish County have a new place to get help in Lynnwood.

The Veterans One-Stop Resource Center now is open every Tuesday and the first Wednesday of each month at the Verdant Community Wellness Center, 4710 196th St. SW.

So far, center staff have helped veterans renegotiate evictions, find permanent housing and navigate their benefits, said Jerry Gadek, a veteran services officer for Snohomish County who retired from the U.S. Air Force.

“It’s a huge benefit to have something locally right there for them to access,” he said.

The county’s veterans office processed 7,163 requests for help in 2015, and the number continues to grow, Gadek said.

It can be stressful for veterans to get to Everett and to navigate downtown parking, he said. He is among the staff and volunteers working at the Lynnwood center.

Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith remembers when a veterans center opened at Edmonds Community College, where she worked before running for office.

“When I became mayor, I was committed to figuring out how do we catch all these veterans from the college who are getting educated and create family-wage jobs in Lynnwood?” she said.

City officials and more than a dozen community groups started working on plans for the new resource center in January 2015, Smith said. South county was a top priority to reach more vets, she said.

The next step will be looking for a space and funding to open a veterans museum in Lynnwood.

The hope is that, when a museum happens, it will serve as a permanent home for a veterans center, Smith said.

“It can become a community center for our veterans and their families,” she said. “That’s my big vision, and we’re moving toward it and it’s really, really cool.”

In Snohomish County, the veteran populations most in need are men and women who served in Vietnam and in post-9/11 combat, Gadek said. Resources are available for issues including disability compensation, burial benefits, career changes, and drug and alcohol addiction.

The center opened March 1 as a year-long pilot project.

“We try to advertise ourselves as a portal for veterans and their families to address any immediate needs,” Gadek said. “If a veteran has a need, a question, an emergency or a crisis, we’re a good place to start.”

Rikki King: 425-339-3449;

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