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June 12, 2014 at 12:03pm

Veterans Resource Fair coming to the Tacoma Dome

Pointing the way to the Tacoma Dome ... Photo courtesy of Facebook

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The first annual Veterans Resource Fair at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall will take place between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, June 21. The day will offer services, resources and varying employment and education opportunities to area veterans and their families.

"I knew there was plenty of resources but it was a matter of publicizing them and gathering them at one time, in one place," said event organizer Alfredo "Tito" Medina, a Navy veteran who has spent decades working with fellow veterans.

The Veteran Resource Fair is a community partnership between various veteran-owned agencies, individuals, nonprofits, federal, state and local county agencies whose aim is to provide a reliable event where Pierce, King, Kitsap and Thurston County veterans and their families can obtain information on various programs and resources.

"Between the veteran population in this area and the amount of transitioning servicemembers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, not to mention the families, there is a growing population that needs this level of attention and help," he said.  

The event is open to any active-duty servicemembers poised to end their service, National Guard members, reservists, veterans and any family members. There is no charge for any one to attend and while the event is informal, homeless veterans will need to provide a DD214 or some form of ID indicating their veteran status since they will be receiving free gear and additional services, including dental screenings.

"Some of these service providers don't have a strong or large network, so we are going to create a meeting space not just for the veterans but for the veteran service organizations and providers so that they can all connect," he explained.

In fact, Medina and his team members went one step further and provided the event booths at no cost to many of these smaller groups as an incentive. They are expecting between 1,000 and 3,000 attendees though if that number climbs even higher, no one will complain.

"The goal is to fill this huge space with every type of possible resources that these veterans and families might need and all the veterans we can handle," Medina said.

Currently there are 90 service providers set to attend and that number will most likely top out at 115, according to Medina. That includes a number of apprenticeship programs and also companies that have real job opportunities, which will be on hand to network and potentially hire veterans.

Providers for the following sections will be onsite that day: community services, VA benefits, legal services, educational benefits, disability claims and benefits, financial education and assistance, as well as housing and home ownership services. Additionally, there will be specific resources for female veterans, medical screenings and dental resources for those in need and services for homeless veterans and those at risk.

Donations of new socks, t-shirts and underwear for both males and females are still being accepted so that they can outfit homeless veterans in attendance. To donate these items, contact Medina at 206.802.5578.

Sponsors for the event include the American Legion, Therapeutic Health Services, Pierce County Veterans Bureau and the Fleet Reserve, as well as a number of private donors. Furthermore, the Pierce County Veterans Advisory Committee (PCVAC) stepped forward to serve as the acting financial body and nonprofit organization for the event. Additional donors are always welcome and checks made payable to "PCVAC" can be sent to: PCVAC (Veterans Resource Fair), 925 Tacoma Ave. S., Suite B, Tacoma, WA 98402.

To volunteer, either for set-up the day prior or to work the event, call 253.272.6824. To see updates about the Veterans Resource Fair, visit www.facebook.com/TheVeteransResourceFair.

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