This year marked The Seattle Elks participation in the Seattle Stand Down for Homeless Vets. The Stand Down was held at Seattle Central Community College and was attended by Service Providers from the Seattle VA, IRS, Several Law Firms, Free Dental & Hair Cut Services were also available. There were many donated items of new clothing, boots, sleeping bags and packs available as well. The Seattle Elks prepared and distributed 765 individual sack lunches to homeless Veterans.
At the 1917 Elks National Convention, Member R.E. Umbel, Uniontown PA Lodge #370 proposed the following resolution: “Resolved: That the sum of One Million Dollars be appropriated by the Grand Lodge to be known as “The War Relief Fund,” such funds to be contributed by our Subordinate Lodges.” (That’s 70 Million in today’s dollars)
In the beginning, there were two fully equipped Base Hospitals funded by our Order. Base Hospital #41 was organized from the faculty and alumni of the University of Virginia. The second, Base Hospital, #46 was organized at the University of Oregon. These two hospitals were transported overseas in support of our troops in France.
In 1919, the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks built and donated a Complete Hospital dedicated to Veteran's Rehabilitative Services for returning WWI Veterans and donated in to the Federal Government. In 1930, this became one of the first VA Hospitals when the Veterans Administration was formed in 1930.
Our travelling members collect unused soaps, shampoos and cologns from their Hotel stays and bring them to the Seattle Elks.
We collect playing cards from our local Native Casinos to re-distribute to the VA Hospital as well.
Ambulatory patients and out patients from the Seattle VA are regularly invited to the Seattle Elks Lodge for functions. We have also donated and maintain Nintendo Wii systems at the VA Hospital for our Veterans enjoyment.
Our participation in support of our “doughboys” became the bedrock of our ongoing support for Veterans that extends to this day. “So long as there are Veterans, the Elks shall be there to support them” Today, our Lodges participate in both national and local veterans programs. Some of our most notable National Veterans Programs are listed below:Wounded Warrior Program The Wounded Warrior Project is a non-profit organization created by and for wounded veterans. Its goal is to provide assistance to veterans who were wounded, both physically and psychologically, in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Wounded Warrior Project provides assistance and counseling to aid in a wounded soldier's return to civilian life. At the 2009 Elks National Convention, the Elks National Veterans Service Commission presented the Wounded Warrior Project with $50,000 to launch the Elks/Wounded Warrior Project. Army of HopeJust as the Elks/Wounded Warrior project assists injured veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Elks' "Army of Hope" assists the families of Military Reservists and the National Guard who have been called to active duty during these times of crisis. The response from members and non-Elks has been overwhelming, and government officials at the local, state and national levels have responded favorably to the initiative. Adopt-a-Veteran If you've ever been hospitalized, you know the loneliness and depression you can experience. Think how tough it must be for hospitalized veterans, especially those who are far from home or have no family. With that thought in mind, George Schwarz of Clawson-Troy, Michigan, Lodge devised a simple yet effective solution in 1980: the Adopt-a-Veteran program. His idea proved so successful that it was picked up by the National Veterans Service Commission in 1983. Last year, Lodges across the nation adopted 47,000 veterans. The Elks visited with them on their birthdays and holidays and showered them with gifts and attention. They took those who could leave the medical centers out to dinner, and brought dinner to those who couldn't. The Elks provided these men and women with comfort, companionship, cheer and understanding, and in the process helped lift some of their loneliness. The object of the Adopt-a-Veteran program is to take the place of family, to replace loneliness with hope and to let the veterans know we will never forget them. Veterans Leather Program The Elks National Veterans Service Commission is the major source of hides and tanned leather used for recreational and occupational therapy throughout the Veterans Administration health care system. Elks Leather has become a national by-word among veteran patients everywhere. Time between visits from friends and families can make hospitalization a drudgery for our veterans. Leather provides a form of relief by keeping minds active as well as providing exercise for injured and unused muscles. Veterans often enter wallets, clothing, belts and moccasins in Arts and Crafts shows sponsored by the Elks. Recently, a program was initiated by Elks whereby tanned leather is cut and sewn into specially designed gloves which are furnished to veterans confined to wheelchairs, thereby protecting their hands during movement. Veterans Remembrance For the Order of Elks, veterans remembrance is a daily proposition. We never have and never will never forget the sacrifices these heroes made so that we may be free. But it has been a tradition for the Order to redouble its efforts on behalf of veterans in November, not just for Veterans Day, but for the entire month. For the Elks, November is Veterans Remembrance Month. The Elks National Veterans Service Commission asks all Lodges to run a special event to commemorate Veterans Remembrance Month and to raise funds for the Lodge's Veterans Service Commission. Many Lodges use the proceeds for special events in the VA medical center during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Some Lodges even invite those veterans who are able to take part in special programs and functions. Playing Cards for Veterans Playing Cards for Veterans is a program that goes hand in hand with our Adopt-A-Veteran Program. This activity gives a hospitalized veteran something to do rather than just passively sitting and watching television. Through the hard work of some of our members who have made arrangements with several riverboats and casinos, we are now able to offer playing cards for our hospitalized veterans to use. Each deck of cards is checked to make sure all cards are in good condition and the deck is complete. After the decks are checked, a "Playing Cards For Veterans" sticker with the logo of the Elks National Veterans Service Commission is placed on each deck of cards. These cards are free of charge.