Honoring Veterans in Clark County
With historic Fort Vancouver right in our backyard, Clark County is a special place to celebrate, honor and support the veterans of our community.
The annual Lough Legacy Veterans Parade will be held on Saturday, November 9 along Officers Row. This year will mark the 33rd year of the parade. If you have yet to attend, it is a sight to behold! More than one hundred groups enter each year with thousands of participants, young and old, marching for 5,000 spectators. Afterward, the Community Military Appreciation Committee (CMAC) will host an open house at Hudson’s Bay High School with free hotdogs, chips and exhibits. Parking is free at the school.
Veterans Sound Off
Local veteran Dr. Kenn Stinchfield, who served as a naval flight officer in Vietnam and later in the Persian Gulf on two aircraft carriers, attends the parade each year with the Northwest Corvette Association (NWCA). The NWCA supports Northwest Battle Buddies which helps to provide service dogs for service men and women suffering from PTSD. The parade is just one way he has felt honored to be a veteran. He has also been invited to speak at his grandchildren’s schools in Vancouver and Washougal.
Many local schools, including elementary schools in Vancouver and Battle Ground School Districts, host a Veterans Day assembly with the public encouraged to attend. These patriotic assemblies are educational for children, and encourage them to appreciate the freedoms they enjoy and the sacrifices given for those freedoms. Dr. Harold Westby, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, spoke in 2016 at Chinook Elementary School, where his daughter works. It was a memorable experience for him, he says, because, “the majority of those in attendance were students, who were joined by veterans and active duty military from all branches of service [as well as] other guests. I felt both honored and humbled by the experience.” Dr. Westby enjoys celebrating the Marine Corps birthday each year in November (incidentally the same month as Veterans Day) with his fellow Marines, and also honors his fellow veterans from all branches of the military through various events throughout the year. “I do it to honor all those who served in uniform, especially those who gave all.”
“The majority of those in attendance were students, who were joined by veterans and active duty military from all branches of service [as well as] other guests. I felt both honored and humbled by the experience.”Dr. Harold Westby, of speaking at Chinook Elementary School
George Austin, who served in the Air Force during Vietnam, and later in Saudi Arabia in the Air National Guard, says he has felt honored to be a veteran in small ways. “My church, in the past, has recognized veterans during our Fourth of July breakfast,” he says. “Several people in the community have thanked me for my service. [But], my family has supported me 100%, especially when I am gone on deployment for long periods of time.” To celebrate Veterans’ Day, Austin wears patriotic colors reflecting his love of our country. “Flags are flown, patriotic hats, ties, and shirts are in view. As a veteran, I love America. I would gladly serve another 33 years if asked to do it.”
Support for Local Veterans
Our veterans need support all year round, not only on Veterans Day. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 11% of all veterans are homeless. Many more suffer from emotional trauma and other disabilities inherited from their service. In Southwest Washington there are many groups providing various forms of help to veterans.
Clark County’s Veteran’s Assistant Fund provides emergency relief to veterans who qualify. Applications can be found at clark.wa.gov. Additionally, the website lists links to multiple organizations helping veterans with job placement, education, healthcare, housing and legal aid.
Clark County Veteran’s Assistant Center is open to all veterans and their families. They assist veterans with housing, food, utility bills, and clothing needs. They also provide help with disability claims as well as transportation and some medical assistance.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Vancouver Post 7824 (VFW) is a fraternal organization specifically for soldiers who served in conflict. Dinners and breakfast are served throughout the week where members can gather to reminisce and be with friends who truly understand. The VFW provides an honor guard for funeral services of fellow soldiers. As a fraternity, they maintain a charitable fund dedicated to helping veterans.
The American Legion is the largest organization for military men and women. They host bingo nights and dinners similar to the VFW. As a national network they offer help to soldiers adjusting to civilian life through Operation Comfort Warriors.
A comprehensive list of businesses in Clark County that offer discounts or special services for veterans can be found in the American Red Cross Resource Guide for Veterans.
The City of Vancouver hosts an annual community clean-up to maintain the memorial on Phil Arnold Way. (See Slideshow below.)
Each of these organizations accept donations or volunteer help to support their mission of improving veterans’ lives.
Finding gainful employment following military service can be a unique challenge. Hire Heroes USA provides support for companies wanting to hire veterans, and for the veterans themselves who are seeking employment. Warrior Rising provides focuses on guiding “vetrepeneurs” through the process of building a business plan and putting that plan into action.
Honor a Veteran
Not everyone knows a veteran personally; yet, all of us have benefited from their service. Each November we have an opportunity to remember the soldiers of all generations who have served our county, many giving the ultimate sacrifice. This Veterans Day, pause to ponder the freedoms you enjoy alongside your neighbors and friends. It’s likely you’ll be able to thank a veteran personally.