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Veterans Memorial Museum announces full slate of events for 2024

The Chronicle - 2/24/2024

Feb. 23—With the new year in full gear and February almost over, the Veterans Memorial Museum in Chehalis released its 2024 event schedule this week.

While staples like the Rust or Shine Car Show and Music Festival and the Tree of Life Memorial Day ceremony are still planned, the museum is partnering with several local community organizations to put on some new events.

Museum Executive Director Chip Duncan, along with Veterans Journey Forward Director Jesse Lloyd, sat down with The Chronicle on Tuesday, Feb. 20, to talk about what they have planned for the year.

Veterans Journey Forward — headquartered at the Veterans Memorial Museum — is a veteran peer counseling organization founded by Lloyd, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, in 2022.

"The more we've worked with the veteran community and just the community as a whole, we've really just found there's a lot of great organizations and we want to do whatever we can to help them out, even if they're not veteran oriented," Duncan said.

Quilts for veterans on palliative care

As far as new happenings, the first is a quilting therapy event in partnership with the Survivor's Advocacy Group and Love Covers, with all quilts being donated to veterans on palliative care.

The Veterans Memorial Museum will host the quilting event for veterans, trauma survivors, and their family and friends on Friday, March 8, from 1 to 5 p.m. The museum is located at 100 SW Veterans Way in Chehalis.

All quilting supplies and sewing machines will be provided by Love Covers.

"The Survivor's Advocacy Group is Angie and Kim, two amazing ladies that are helping out family members left behind dealing with grief, helping them get resources, things like that," Duncan said. "One of the things that Angie was dealing with while working with a client, was the need for a survivor to connect to other survivors, and really just connect with people."

Founded by Angie Creel, of Chehalis, and Kim Bradeen, of South Thurston County, the Survivor's Advocacy Group provides support and guidance to family members after a death. The group also offers estate management and other administrative services, including dealing with financial institutions and creditors, according to its website.

The Survivor's Advocacy Group also works closely with eCare Mortuary, a local mortuary service.

"The eCare Mortuary has been absolutely phenomenal," Lloyd said. "When we have a veteran who passes, they're able to help (the family) get their benefits, get them set up with Tahoma National Cemetery, get them the flag, and are super personable. They're not just about the money."

Going above and beyond is something the Survivor's Advocacy Group aims to do as well, Duncan added.

"There's some pretty good programs churches offer like grief-shares, those sorts of things, but Angie was thinking, 'Maybe we can do more than just that,'" Duncan said.

Wanting to do more led to the Survivor's Advocacy Group partnering with Love Covers, a South Thurston County nonprofit that makes quilts for veterans in palliative care, and eventually led the museum to host the event.

Duncan added the event is meant to help survivors socialize and meet other people they can go out to other events with.

To learn more about the Survivor's Advocacy Group, visit https://www.survivorsadvocacygroup.org/. For more information on Love Covers, visit https://www.lovecoverswa.org/.

The Chronicle's previous story on eCare Mortuary can be found here https://bit.ly/48sVHn1.

Veterans Stand Downs

In the military, safety stand downs are used by unit commanders to address a variety of issues with service members, from hazards and concerns related to an upcoming exercise to reminding them to drink responsibly over a holiday weekend.

Since veterans are very familiar with the term, Duncan decided to adopt it for other new upcoming events.

These other events include at least four veterans resource fairs, or "Veterans Stand Downs," in partnership with Lewis County Veterans Advisory Board. These events will provide Lewis County veterans with easier access to resources and benefits being offered to them, along with counseling services.

"There will kind of be four events focused with vendors that are helping veterans out in Washington state," Duncan said. "But we're going to split them up between East and West Lewis County."

The first Veterans Stand Down will be in East Lewis County on Saturday, March 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lewis County Fire District 14 fire station, located at 9978 U.S. Highway 12 in Randle. The stand downs for western Lewis County will be held at the Veterans Memorial Museum, Duncan said.

The first in West Lewis County is scheduled for Sunday, April 21, from noon to 2 p.m., and the second will be held on Saturday, July 13, from noon to 2 p.m.

For more information on the Veterans Stand Downs, contact Lewis County Veterans Services Specialist Heidi Palmer at 360-740-1417.

Hosting a new car show

With the multiple acres of land surrounding the Veterans Memorial Museum already utilized for multiple car shows throughout the year, when Duncan heard Lewis County Autism Coalition was planning to host its own car show, he offered the museum's space at the event.

"They do a lot of good with our autistic community and I found out they were going to try to do a car show for fundraising and realized they were going to do it in their office parking lot, which I think has like 25 parking spaces," Duncan said. "I said, 'No, I want this to be very successful.'"

Previous car shows Duncan hosted at the museum have had more than 400 entrants. The museum's 2021 Rust or Shine show had 425 registered entrants.

The Lewis County Autism Coalition's car show will be held on June 22, with more event information soon to come.

Founded in 2010, the Lewis County Autism Coalition aims to grow and sustain resources for children and adults on the autism spectrum along with their parents and families. For more information, visit https://www.lcautism.org/.

Other car shows scheduled at the Veterans Memorial Museum this year include the Cruzin to the Muzeum Kick Off for Summer on Saturday, June 8, the Rust or Shine Car Show and Music Festival on Sunday, Sept. 1, and the Hot Rods for Holli Car Show at a date yet to be determined.

And while not located at the museum, the Veterans Memorial Museum will organize the Chehalis Fest Car Show, which will benefit the museum, in downtown Chehalis on Saturday, July 27.

Other 2024 events

On Saturday, March 23, the Veterans Memorial Museum will host a screening of the 1954 movie Men of the Fighting Lady beginning at 6 p.m.

The film will be presented by U.S. Navy veteran Robert Thayer, son of Howie Thayer, a U.S. Navy aviator whose heroic act of helping guide a fellow pilot who had been blinded during a mission back to a safe landing on an aircraft carrier during the Korean War is featured in the movie.

Following the film's conclusion, Robert will remain for a discussion to answer questions.

During the weekend of April 27, the museum will host a U.S. Revolutionary War reenactment.

The Veterans Memorial Museum will host a Memorial Day Veterans Journey Forward 5k run beginning at the museum at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 27, followed by a Memorial Day service at Claquato Cemetery, located at 142 Stearns Road in Chehalis, at 10:30 a.m.

Additionally, the Veteran Memorial Museum's Tree of Life Ceremony will be held back at the museum after the Memorial Day Service at 2 p.m.

Though not held at the museum, Duncan will once again be organizing and running the Run Gifford Run Gambler 500 event, scheduled to run from Aug. 4 to Aug. 6 in Randle.

On Wednesday, Oct. 30, the museum will host its Trunks with Treats event beginning at 6 p.m.

Then, on Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 11, the Veterans Memorial Museum will host a 5K run at 9 a.m., followed by a free lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a Veterans Day program beginning at 2 p.m.

On Sunday, Dec. 8, a World War II remembrance dinner will be held at the museum beginning at 2 p.m.

For more information on upcoming events, contact the Veterans Memorial Museum on its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/chehalisveteransmemorialmuseum or visit the museum's website at https://www.veteransmuseum.org/.

To learn more about Veterans Journey Forward, visit https://www.veteransjourneyforward.org/.

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