Pierce County and the South Sound enjoy a special relationship with military services members and their families. So it only makes sense that RallyPoint/6 chose Lakewood to open the state’s largest private, one-stop resource center.
The nonprofit organization – which supports transitioning service members, National Guard and Reservists, veterans and military families – is now operating in the heart of Lakewood, a city whose identity and culture is intertwined with Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Camp Murray, the American Lake Veterans Hospital and the region’s military.
With support from community volunteers, retired military service members and military family members, the new center is designed as a hub for veterans who seek crucial transitional connections for employment and careers, education, family programs, housing, veteran benefits and wellness resources.
RallyPoint/6’s chose the Lakewood location because of proximity to the military. That proximity will help RallyPoint/6 serve the growing volume of new veterans in the South Puget Sound.
Pierce County currently has one of the largest veteran concentrations in the U.S. at more than 90,000.
In 2013, more than 6,000 service members transitioned to civilian life through JBLM, and another 9,500 service members are expected to do the same in 2014, according to Anne Sprute, RallyPoint/6 Founder and CEO.
“We anticipate between 14,000 and 15,000 service members and their families will relocate here annually from duty stations worldwide through the year 2016,” said Sprute, a retired CW4 helicopter pilot. “These service members will require resources to make a smooth transition and reintegrate fully into their communities.
“RallyPoint/6 is standing ready to provide opportunities for connections and a smooth path ahead,” she added.
The center boasts more than 6,000 square feet of space, and its amenities include:
- A resource room with 20 computer stations.
- Commercial-grade copier/printer and fax machine.
- 10 private meeting rooms.
- 16 community collaborator partner stations.
- Classroom for workshops and other learning opportunities.
The site also offers a child drop-off “Drop Zone” to accommodate service members and their families who need a break from kid duties while connecting to the vast array of resources in the local community.
For java drinkers, RallyPoint/6 is set to receive a commercial coffee machine from Starbucks and will be serving complimentary coffee from the Seattle coffeemaker along with treats from the robust volunteer core.
Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, a RallyPoint/6 Board Member, says the organization’s mission is ideal for such a military rich region.
“Given the number of service members transitioning into Pierce County over the next few years, RallyPoint/6 is a key resource for building veteran support networks among businesses and non-profits,” she said. “It gives efficient and effective assistance to veterans and their families joining our communities.”
The center is a product of community support, as well as a recognition that it must do everything we can to help veterans and their families. The initial funding came from the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation with a bold challenge grant that pledged $1 million in matching funds from the community. Through generous private and public donors and foundation grants, Sprute and a small team of citizen leaders and veterans raised the necessary $1 million in less than four months. In addition to community donations, the organization received in-kind support to establish RallyPoint/6’s physical location.
“The sacrifices that service members and their families make on a daily basis are remarkable,” Lakewood City Manager John Caulfield said. “A center like RallyPoint/6 shows how much our community is committed to helping and meeting the needs of our transitioning military. Anne is doing a wonderful thing for our military community, and the City of Lakewood will support the RP/6 mission any way it can. We welcome RP/6 with open arms.”
Lieutenant General (R) Bill Harrison, Co-Chairman of the RallyPoint/6 Board of Directors and former commander of I Corps and Fort Lewis, as well as Lakewood’s first mayor, said: “These transitioning young veterans and their families have the potential to become the bedrock of our South Puget Sound communities in the future. Helping them succeed will produce our next generation of strong families, community volunteers, civic and business leaders. We ask you to join us at RallyPoint/6 in welcoming them home and helping them thrive.”
If you or someone you know is a veteran who’s making the transition out of the military, stop by RallyPoint/6 to connect to the center’s exhaustive network of resources.
There are different ways you can assist in this mission; volunteer with your time, talent or donate resources. Be part of ensuring our next greatest generation is embraced with opportunity to continue to serve in the community. As the Schultz Family Foundation stated, “While their service is ending, our responsibility is just beginning.”
RP/6 is located at 9881 Bridgeport Way SW, Lakewood. Operating hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, visit rp6.org.
Other local leaders on the Board of Directors include Pierce County Councilmember Doug Richardson, Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson, Pierce College President Denise Yochum, WorkForce Central CEO Linda Nguyen and several military representatives.
CW4 Anne M. Sprute, USA, Ret., RallyPoint/6
Larry Saunders, RallyPoint/6 Board Co-Chair