Veterans And Friends of Puget Sound is a veterans advocacy nonprofit. We advocate for veterans, and for the health care system that supports them. Contact us at VAFpugetsound@gmail.com

There are hundreds, probably thousands of organizations that seek to assist veterans, each with its own mission. Our mission is to do those things no-one else is doing. VAF really got going some years back, when we discovered that the hydrotherapy pool at VA Puget Sound Healthcare System (VAPS) was out of order and would not be funded for replacement for many years. VAF organized a citizens’ movement to get that project funded, and today the pool is in use, helping veterans recover more rapidly.

Frequently we would encounter veterans would were stalled by paperwork or unaware that they could ask for help on some issues. For example, many Vietnam veterans have yet to apply to the Agent Orange registry, to see if their health issues are related to that. We connect them to the Registry, walking with them to the window, and thereafter the veterans gets the help that has been earned.

VAF also conducts an In-Kind Gift program, that matches needs at VAPS with willing donors. For example, when one ward identified a need for computers to enable patients to email their families, VAF found a willing donor in the form of a local DAV chapter, and shepherded the donation through the donation and installation process.

Recently VAF signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with VA to  assist in getting our veterans the best health care possible, through upgrades to public spaces (“Atriums”) at VA Puget Sound Health Care (VAPSHC), powered by public/private partnerships and donations. At hospitals generally, the quality of spaces such as atriums, courtyards, entrances, gardens, malls and waiting areas affect patients, families, and staff. Their experiences are more healing or more stressful, depending what’s in these spaces (hereafter referred to as “atriums”).

While VAPS provides expert medical, surgical and mental health care, the private sector can assist in the healing process by improving atriums to provide a more comfortable environment for patients, families and staff.The Atrium Project uses public/private partnerships to design, fund and implement such improvements. This is an opportunity for the private and public sectors to work together in new ways, and to build a community of involvement in veterans’ health care.

The first part of The Atrium Project  is raising funds and other resources for the development of a Therapeutic Garden next to the Emergency Department at the VA Hospital in Seattle. In cooperation with the University of Washington Department of Landscape Architecture, and subject to approval of each particular project by VA Central Office (VACO) VAF will be raising money to be applied to this and similar projects.

Our values include openness and minimizing overhead. We help donors connect directly with the usage to which their donations are put, both to assure donors that their generosity is put to good use, and also to build community.