A nonprofit founded in the South Sound last year to help veterans and military families thrive after leaving the Armed Forces is about to get national reach through a partnership with the USO.
The USO picked Lakewood’s Rally Point 6 as the model it wants to replicate at bases around the country for programs that match troops and their family members with services that could help them as they separate from the military.
The idea is to use the USO’s scale to build a network of programs like Rally Point 6 that troops can use to plan the lives they want to lead after leaving the military anywhere in the country, said Alan Reyes, USO’s vice president of operations.
“It’s a bridge there that we can help build,” he said.
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Rally Point 6 officially opened last year near Lakewood Towne Center, in the shadow of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, launching programs that give individual assistance to troops, military family members and veterans as they seek to find civilian jobs or access social services.
The USO partnership would not take away from Rally Point 6’s work in the South Sound, said Anne Sprute, its founder and chief executive. Instead, she said it could be used to strengthen the local program by connecting it to one of the country’s most widely known military support organizations.
The USO developed similar arrangements with three other nonprofit organizations, two of which focus on services for military families and one that aims to connect veterans with private sector jobs. Together, they’re called the USO Transition 360 Alliance.
Reyes said the USO has plans to develop a total of five Rally Point 6-like programs this year and another half dozen next year.
Rally Point 6 hit the ground running last year by nurturing close ties to JBLM, the Puget Sound business community and Washington State political leaders.
The organization’s board of directors includes Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson. It also has a military advisory board with senior-ranking officers from JBLM, including I Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza.
Reyes said the programs the USO intends to build similarly would be encouraged to nurture relationships in their communities. That way, a soldier leaving the Army out of JBLM could count on finding a Rally Point 6-style network in another state if he chooses to settle outside of Washington.
“That really sets them up for success,” Reyes said.