RallyPoint/6 invites you to attend a grand opening ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 3, at noon to tour the new facility, meet the team and hear guest speakers.
The nonprofit organization – which supports all generations of all military branches, veterans and military family members – operates the state’s largest privately-funded resource portal for employment, education, benefits, family programs, finance, legal, and wellness opportunities for service members, veterans and military families.
Pierce County and the south Puget Sound enjoy a special relationship with military service members and their families, and RallyPoint/6 is now operating in the heart of Lakewood, a city whose identity and culture is intertwined with Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the state’s National Guard Headquarters, Camp Murray and American Lake Veterans Hospital. The city is also in the heart of Pierce County, which has one of the largest concentrated veteran populations in the U.S. at more than 90,000.
With support from veterans who founded the organization, volunteer service members, military family members, and citizen leaders, the new center is designed as a hub for veterans who seek crucial transitional and reintegration connections from existing and emerging public and private organizations within the community.
RallyPoint/6 Founder and CEO Anne Sprute says she understands when service members and their families move to a new community or transition from their military service, they are not coming home to the government or the VA. They are coming home to communities, and Sprute adds RallyPoint/6 can help ensure they are well-received and set up for success through the multiple public and private organizations positioned throughout the community.
“This year alone, 9,500 service members are expected to transition from JBLM and an estimated 13,000 will be transitioning from military installations worldwide back to Washington state," said Sprute, a retired U.S. Army chief warrant officer 4 and 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 follow up for a smooth path ahead,” Sprute added. The center has been operating on a limited basis since March 2014 while infrastructure was put into place, staff trained and processes with service partners refined. Beginning Sept. 3, RallyPoint/6 will launch full scale operations.
The center boasts more than 6,000 square feet of space and its amenities include:
- A resource room with computer stations;
- A commercial-grade copier/printer and fax machine;
- 10 private meeting rooms;
- 16 community partner connector stations staffed by social service professionals; and
- A classroom for workshops and other learning opportunities.
The site also offers a “Drop Zone” area to drop off children, accommodating service members and their families who need a break from kid duties while connecting to the vast array of resources at the center. For java drinkers, RallyPoint/6 also has a commercial coffee machine that serves complimentary coffee, tea and hot chocolate. These services are donated by the Starbucks Coffee Company as a very generous way of thanking patrons for their service to our country.
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 will be another key resource for building veteran support networks among businesses and non-profits,” McCarthy said. “Providing efficient and effective assistance to veterans and their families joining our communities will enhance the livability of Pierce County.”
The center is a product of community support as well as a recognition that everything must be done 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 veterans and citizen leaders 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 meet 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.”
“These transitioning young veterans and their families have the potential to become the bedrock of our communities in the future," said retired Lieutenant General Bill Harrison, co-chairman of the RallyPoint/6 board of directors. “Helping them succeed will produce our next generation of strong families, community volunteers and 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 with 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 in Lakewood. Operating hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, visit rp6.org.
CW4 Anne M. Sprute, U.S. Army, retired, and RallyPoint/6 Founder and CEO
Col. Larry Saunders, U.S. Army, retired