Port Angeles veterans advocate receives state award for labor of love
Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Veterans advocate Venay Money sits in her office at the Port Angeles Veterans Center on Thursday. Money will be honored by the state for outstanding services to veterans.
By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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“I said, 'Thank you very much,' and I said, 'What award?'” Money said with a laugh Thursday.
Money is one of eight recipients of the 2012 Outstanding Service to Veterans Award and will be featured with her co-awardees in Auburn's annual Veterans Day Parade on Saturday.
“I thought, 'You mean I get to ride in a [Veterans Day] parade and not have to drive in one?'” Money said.
The state Department of Veterans Affairs, in conjunction with the Governor's Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee, will present the awards at a luncheon at 1:30 p.m. in Auburn after the awardees march in the city's 11 a.m. Veterans Day parade.
Active for 25 years
Money, 72, has been active in veterans affairs in Clallam County for 25 years since she first joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars — or VFW — Ladies Auxiliary 1024 in Port Angeles.
Now the president of the auxiliary, Money also serves as the secretary of both the Clallam County Veterans Center and Voices for Veterans in Port Angeles, and in addition is a lead coordinator in the Disabled America Veterans Transportation Network.
She has worked to organize Voices for Veterans' annual Stand Down at the Clallam County Fairgrounds, in which veterans in need can get a free haircut and pick up free clothing and other basic necessities, and also has organized food drives for dependents of fallen veterans.
“I try to keep busy,” Money said.
Money said she didn't fully understand the struggles American veterans regularly go through until she joined the VFW and later experienced those struggles firsthand alongside her husband, who is a veteran of the Vietnam War.
“That's the reason I work so hard with the veterans,” Money said, “because I know what they went through.”
Clallam County Veterans Coordinator Tammy Sullenger said Money was thrown in with no prior experience as head of the veterans transportation network, which organizes volunteer-driven rides to veterans' medical facilities in Seattle, but she managed to secure roughly 13 more volunteer drivers during her tenure as lead coordinator.
“She took the lead and made it a program like it's never been before,” Sullenger said.
Sullenger said she thinks the transportation program exemplifies the work Money puts into helping veterans.
Money works closely with veterans, planning their trips, making sure they have their proper paperwork and following up with them when they return home.
“She's just amazing,” Sullenger said.
Money said she could not pick any of the veterans program as most significant to her but said she is often struck by the people she meets during the annual Stand Downs.
She said she is proud when veterans who came for a free haircut or clothes return the next year to help others during the Stand Down.
“That to me is what is so darned rewarding,” Money said.
Money said she has every intention of working for veterans until she physically cannot do it any longer.
“It's in my heart to help them, and no one is ever going to stop me,” Money said.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: November 08. 2012 5:49PM