Town Hall Tackle Issues plaguing Washington State veterans

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The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs held a town hall at the Clarkston VFW Hall. They discussed how veterans can get the help they need, and what new services are available.

"There's help available, and I realize that a majority of the vets don't want help or don't need help, but those who do need help, it's there and we want to help them get it,” said Chuck Whitman.

That’s the message Chuck Whitman from the Asotin County Veterans Advisory Board echoed throughout Wednesday night’s town hall.

One of the most asked questions... what to do if a doctor says the CHOICE program is going away.

"With the new mission act, $5.2 billion has been allocated to the CHOICE program for fiscal year 2019,” said Charlie Duranona, Constituent Relations Liason.

And even though the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs operates out of the Evergreen State, that doesn’t mean help is only available in Washington.

"Obviously we can work with the ones on this side, but we can connect you with someone that can do it across the river too. We work with the congressman's office across the river,” said John Davis, Military Veterans Outreach Liason.

There is only one state run veterans’ cemetery in the state... and it’s all the way up in Medical Lake. That’s why the VA is looking to build a new cemetery closer to those in Central and Eastern Washington in the Tri-Cities.

Veterans Cemetery Director, Rudy Lopez said, "We realize there's a need. We worked on it. We spent some money and partnered with the federal VA on this, and we estimate that that facility is going to be able to service about, based on the population, about 400 burials a year."

Lopez said work hasn’t started on the Tri-Cities cemetery, but he hopes to have construction completed in the next three to five years so families don’t have to travel hundreds of miles for services or visitation.

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