Local Veterans Day observances announced

Veterans Day is Tuesday Nov. 11, and as has been the case for many years, Kitsap County will honor veterans at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.

Veterans Day is Tuesday Nov. 11, and as has been the case for many years, Kitsap County will honor veterans at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.

“Veterans Day: Honoring All Who Served,” will begin at 9 a.m. with a program in the pavilion starting at 10:30 a.m.

There will be displays of antique military vehicles, vintage military uniforms, and an address by Doug Pfeffer, operations manager for Rally Point/6, a nonprofit veteran support group in Pierce County.

Pfeffer, a veteran of both the Navy and the Army, will speak about how Rally Point/6 came to be and about its plans to expand into Kitsap County.

“We’re headquartered in Lakewood,” Pfeffer said. “But we plan satellite offices in Kitsap and Thurston counties.”

Pfeffer said Rally Point/6 has been in existence in Lakewood for about two years. Services were first provided out of coffee shops and at military events helping veterans and their families with anything veterans needed as they transition from military life to being private citizens.

“It’s a rough time for most vets,” Pfeffer said. “I experienced that myself.”

After serving in the military for 18 years, four of those years at Fort Lewis, he bought a house in Gig Harbor with plans for he and his wife and their two children to retire on the Kitsap Peninsula. But he was given one last assignment with the Army and was transferred to Fort Drum, New York.

“I was sent to New York for one last tour,” he said. “I had to rent out my house and figure out how to adjust everything — all our plans,” he said.

But it was there, in New York, that he came across a one-stop-shop service in Rochester, that helped veterans with transiting to private life.

“When it came time for me to get out, I went to the regular places to get help and I was disappointed with the help I got,” he said. “It wasn’t very personal.”

When he came across the program in Rochester, it impressed him so much that he asked to use the “blueprint” and moved back to western Washington with plans to create a similar program here. That’s how Rally Point/6 came to be.

By July of 2013, Rally Point/6 had a home, a former real estate office near Lakewood Towne Center was transformed into its headquarters.

“We were told it would take $1 million and a year to remodel it,” he said. “But we got it done for $164,000 and within four months because of the support of the community and many private companies that helped out.”

Now, Rally Point/6 opens daily to help veterans and their family members with everything from job searching and resume writing to housing issues and how to work with the military and the Veterans Administration to get benefits.

To date, Rally Point/6 has helped more than 1,000 veterans. Services are provided by “scouts” — volunteers who are trained in areas such as employment, emergency services, legal and housing needs.

“There is never any cost to veterans for the services we provide,” said Pfeffer. “There are no charges out of pocket.”

It’s also linked to the Dixon Center, a national organization operated by Easter Seals, which helps veterans with their needs.

Pfeffer is looking forward to speaking in Kitsap County on Veterans Day.

“I want to share our story,” he said.

And Veterans Day has a special meaning for him.

“It’s a day to stop and reflect on all that veterans have given to this nation,” he said. “On Veterans Day, I stop to appreciate, too, all the support I’ve gotten from others throughout the years.

“But it’s also my anniversary. My wife, Teri, and I chose Veterans Day to be married so that we would always have that day off to share time together.”

The program is expected to last until 11:45 a.m. and will include the Bremerton High School Band, Michael Oliver, bagpiper, ceremonial bell ringing, a rifle salute and taps.

Displays will remain up through 1 p.m. And there will be free refreshments provided by Crazy Eric’s Drive-In and Costco.

The event is sponsored by the Bremerton-Olympic Peninsula Navy League. The fairgrounds are located at 1200 Fairgrounds Road N.W. in Bremerton.

Preceding the Veterans Day event, Miller Woodlawn will have a tribute to all veterans beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8 at 5505 Kitsap Way in Bremerton.

Cadets from the Washington State Academy will post flags on the graves of veterans prior to the event and at 10 a.m. there will be a flag ceremony where all the service flags and the American Flag will be raised.

A wreath will replaced at the USS Bremerton memorial in the cemetery. The names of the 16 veterans who were killed in action and who are buried in the cemetery will be read.

There will be the ringing of the bells, a 21-gun salute by the Suquamish Warriors veterans service group and Glen Gray, a retired Marine bugler, will play taps.

That event is open to the public and if the weather cooperates, there may be a few words said by various military officials.