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Lacey Veterans Services Hub ready to help vets get help

The Lacey Veterans Services Hub in Lacey will help with all your veteran needs, in one convenient location. Photo credit: Facebook

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In a military veteran's seemingly endless search for help finding housing and education options, employment or counseling, the results are frequently the same.

They give up, frustrated by the process.

Sign-up processes are sometimes complicated by lengthy drives. Or long, discouraging computer searches.

To simplify this, the City of Lacey came up with a solution. In October 2016, the Lacey Veterans Services Hub opened, a one-site solution to questions about benefits, VA claims, education and counseling. It's a one-stop-shop.

"It's a real difficult situation for some of these folks," said Steve Kirkman, the City of Lacey's public affairs manager. "They get frustrated."

The Lacey Veterans Services Hub, located at 4232 6th Ave. in Lacey, provides convenient access for the 32,000-plus military veterans who live in Thurston County. And with almost 8,000 in Lacey alone, the need is great. So, the Lacey city council decided back in 2016 they wanted to help meet the needs of military veterans. It's the city's way for saying, "thank you for your service."

From the start, the Lacey Veterans Services Hub has been busy. Since opening 18 months ago, the service center has assisted 5,000 veterans.

"It's growing every month," Kirkman said about the Hub. "It demonstrates the need is right there."

There are a lot of places veterans can go and get a list of services. Maybe get on the phone and make an appointment, then get a map and driving directions on how to get there. But that's often only the first step.

"You could spend a day or two just driving all over the place trying to get to one of these locations for their services," Kirkman said. "We've flipped that model. Instead of us handing you a map and a list of phone numbers and say you go here. We say come here."

The Lacey Veterans Services Hub has over 35 different agencies and businesses all under one roof, ready to help the vet in need. For example, every Monday at the Hub is Housing Day: five housing providers show up ready to help vets search for a home.

"If you need housing ... come in to the Hub on a Monday," Kirkman said. "You (can) meet with all of our housing providers at once. They're all right there."

It's convenient and a time-saving helping hand. And Kirkman said the Hub is learning and growing as it goes.

"We're only 16 months old, so we're still working on it, creating as we go," Kirkman said.  "There's no model out there on how to do this. We're sort of inventing it as we go along."

Lacey Veterans Services Hub doesn't just point veterans in the right direction. They have people in their building who help vets access benefits if they don't know how to do that. The Hub has computer stations, and a counselor will come and sit with you.

"We see a statistic frequently that indicates that about half of the veterans in our country never access their benefits because it's intimidating or it's confusing or they don't have a computer," Kirkman said. "Or, if they do know where to go they see a big long line and they get frustrated."

The Hub helps quiet that frustration.

The Lacey Veterans Services Hub, 4232 6th Ave. SE, Suite 202, Lacey, 360.456.3850,

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