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Local business helps send veterans to nation’s capital

Brown Bear Car Wash donates to Puget Sound Honor Flight

Brown Bear Car Wash donates to Puget Sound Honor Flight to fund veterans’ trips to military memorials in Washington, D.C. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Brown Bear Car Wash is proud to support veterans and donates to causes that benefit them.

When asked why the business does this, Steve Palmer, chief financial officer and marketing director, simply said, "You are the best of us."

Since 1957 when Vic Odermat, Brown Bear's founder and chief executive officer, opened the company's first location in downtown Seattle, the focus has been on providing the best to the customer as well as the environment.

Currently with 52 locations in the Puget Sound area and Spokane, the family-owned enterprise is the largest car wash operation on the West Coast and is the 12th largest in the country. 

It is also widely recognized for its environmentally friendly practices through the use of gentle, biodegradable cleaning detergents at all its locations.

"We celebrate our customers while benefitting the environment," said Odermat, a veteran who served in the Marine Corps.

But when it comes to veterans and their service to the nation, Brown Bear Car Wash toes the line in supporting them.

"Mr. Odermat has been a long-time supporter of our Armed Forces and enjoys recognizing the valuable contributions and sacrifices that the men and women of the military provide," continued Palmer.

"We have been providing free car washes to veterans for many years and plan to continue that tradition for years to come."

In line with this thought, Palmer said that he had volunteered six years ago to act as a guardian for a number of World War II veterans who were guests on a Puget Sound Honor Flight.

A nonprofit, volunteer organization, Puget Sound Honor Flight began airlifting veterans to the nation's capital in order to see and reflect on the various memorials. 

The operation runs out of Sea-Tac Airport and is focused on veterans from the region. The veteran receives an all-expenses paid trip, and a companion is invited to help the veteran with anything he or she needs.

After serving as a companion for two WWII veterans on an honor flight six years ago, Odermat and Palmer decided that Brown Bear Car Wash would financially support the effort.

"We instituted the practice of donating $1 for every car washed on Veterans Day to the Honor Flight," he explained, "because it is one small way to help us recognize our amazing soldiers."

This past Veterans Day, Brown Bear Car Wash raised and then donated $13,534 to Puget Sound Honor Flight, raising the total of money donated over the years to over $71,000.

"We are honored to provide our area's aging or terminally ill veterans with an opportunity, at no cost to them, to view and reflect at the military branch memorials in Washington, D.C.," concluded Odermat.

"It's our way of saluting the sacrifices and achievement of veterans in the communities we serve."

For more information about the Puget Sound Honor Flight, visit: To learn more about Brown Bear Car Wash, visit:

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