Fundraising breathes new life into vet center



A successful fundraiser late last year is catapulting the Whidbey Veterans Resource Center into  being a “real nonprofit.”

“We are gaining momentum,” said Greg Stone, president of the center’s board of directors.

As the result of a showing of the documentary “Soldiers’ Sanctuary” in November and a generous matching offer from South Whidbey businessman Lucas Jushinski, the center raised more than $21,000 by the end of 2014.

Jushinski, a veteran himself and owner of Island Alternative Medicine in Freeland, offered to match up to $10,000 in donations.

The influx in cash marks a change in the center’s direction, and organizers plan to use the money to introduce more manpower and additional services.

“We are going to enable ourselves to really provide the services we want to,” Stone said. “We want to help ourselves be more professional.”

The center will use this “seed money” to train existing volunteers and board members to run like a “real nonprofit,” Stone said, and leverage that manpower into additional grants and funding sources.

Stone said the board would like to pay a part-time coordinator, a role that would hopefully grow into a full-time executive director.

They will be doing a rigorous search for the program director, who will, in turn, assist the board in building a successful business plan.

The board has also recruited and will continue to seek “new, vibrant members for the board,” Stone said.

WVRC works with veterans and their families to receive the benefits after having served in the military and to connect with local, state and national resources.

WVRC services include assisting with VA claims by a trained veteran service officer on site, providing info and referrals.

The center also organizes the annual Stand Down event which will be Aug. 1.

The event is open to all veterans and their families, and offers free food, clothing, live music and access to VA experts who can advise on medical, employment and legal matters.

Weekly support groups are available for men and women at 5 p.m. Tuesdays and for women alone 5 p.m. Mondays.

The center also pays for disabled veterans to swim free at the Oak Harbor pool.

More than 13,000 veterans live in Island County, the highest per capita in the state.

Of these, more than 2,500 of them are disabled; more than 2,300 are younger veterans; and a high number suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to numbers gathered by the WVRC.

The center is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays at the Bayview American Legion, 14096 Highway 525 inn Langley.

Contact: or 360-331-8081.