History of Nine9Line Veterans Services
Nine9line Veteran Services is an innovative way to approach Veterans, their families, and the community. Through a group of like-minded Veterans and the development of programs that reflect that need of a diverse and ever growing population, we are driven to improve services and motivated to make long-lasting impact in our own backyard.
We are a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization. Our IRS exemption letter is available upon request.
In June of 2012 Veterans located in urban & rural areas of Pierce, King & Thurston counties were met with consistent issues with chronic homelessness, hunger, mental health, support services and lack of access to those services. With a demographic of 600,000 Military, Veterans, National Guard and Military Dependents, the need for services was growing and the ability to connect those services was an ever-growing issue. With social service issues climbing to an all-time high with the reduction of force in full affect, over 300,000 Veterans separating or being separated into the civilian sector with no plans and very limited support networks, it was evident that the need to step in was there.
Under the instruction and guidance of Alfredo "Tito" Medina, Scot Pondalick & Shawn Durnen The Veterans Resource Fair was born. This took the first leap into 150 Veterans served with 25 service providers at Green River College Auditorium. Thus, begun the initial history of Nine9Line Veteran Services, and the six years of service to those who served through the largest "Labor of Love" hosted in the Pacific Northwest. Post-war economic depression, millennials, and political uncertainty ushered in the new millennium. The State took a firm approach under president Obamas administration to focus efforts on ending Veteran Homelessness by 2016, and this was the most imperative point of development for Veteran Services and where Nine9Line began to develop. Through efforts to better serve our military communities we built the programs that now serve over 5,000 Veterans yearly. We based our stationary operations out of Lacey, WA working in the Veterans Service Hub providing daily referrals, training and outreach to over 2,500 Veterans in Thurston County.
In 2015 The Veterans Resource Fair was recognized as the number #1 stand down event on the West Coast and officially began its largest partnership with over 150 service providers, 12 state agencies and was adopted as the Official Veteran Support event of Washington State by the Governors Veterans Advisory Council and your Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs, the vision of Nine9Line was coming together.
In 2016 Nine9Line was born and moved to Tacoma Washington, meanwhile also maintaining operations in established Thurston County. The first board of Nine9Line took the core values of The Veterans Resource Fair and 7 years of amazing service into four separate programs under the leadership of Rebecca Wolf, Scot Pondalick, Shawn Durnen, Najla Neumann, and David Konkler. These programs laid out the greatest need in the military & veteran community, devoted structures that developed the pillars of success that are still used today in current programs throughout WA State.
Nine9Line Route Step Outdoors:
Nine9line Outdoors takes an innovative approach on engaging & empowering Veterans through outdoor activities Hiking, Snowboarding, Environmental Stewardship & the ability to engage with the healing & soothing therapeutic abilities of the great outdoors.
Nine9Line Peer Support & Transition:
Nine9line Peer Support & Transition offers a variety of free classes to the community and Veterans, on topics such as Veteran culture, suicide prevention and awareness, and peer support. We also offer aid to Veterans who are currently navigating the college or university realm. Our annual Education Symposium will offer many of these topics, plus more from dynamic public speakers. We strive to improve resources and provider skills to better serve our Veterans and families. Peer support is integrated into every aspect of Nine9line, but we also offer targeted individual services. We are Veterans who have lived our struggles and use that experience to help others. We offer a holistic, alternative approach to peer support, which can include one-on-one support, ongoing peer mentoring, and crisis intervention. Holistic wellness takes all life factors into consideration, from emotional to social, to financial and occupational, and even physical and spiritual. Through Nine9line Peer Support we will soon offer Wellness Skills Classes free to the community in each of these areas.
Veteran Vision Vast:
The Veteran Vision Fast is a new and unique opportunity for Veterans who are seeking long term solutions to PTSD and suicide ideation, serving as a "Ceremony of Return" for those looking for a way to reconnect with themselves, their place in the world, and their place in the community. Currently open to all Washington State Veterans.
The Veterans Resource Fair:
Arranging and conducting of fairs for business and advertising purposes, namely for business that provide community outreach services to veterans through providing information on VA benefits, legal services, homelessness, and at risk, educational benefits, medical screenings and dental resources, job training, female veteran resources, active duty transition services, financial education assistance, home ownership, justice system related reintegration services, disability claims and benefits, widows and widows support, all provided for military personnel, veterans and families.
Also in 2016 the funding of these amazing programs was initiated, with a gracious partnership between Pierce & Thurston County with a basic operating fund for all the above programs, in 2016 it also marked the first Veteran owned, operated and completely Veteran affiliated funding for a Non-profit in Washington State history.
The millennium was a decade of turbulence, growth and change and Nine9Line was not immune, by mid-2016 the need for promising direction was up for discussion. All the original planning was in question, so as any organization would do the Nine9Line board addressed the room for growth expanding on leadership, with the enactment of the ending Veteran homelessness legislation it left room for plenty of expansion.
Because of the VHL, Operation Welcome One Home was born and so began the expansion on the second board of Nine9Line Veteran Services. Under the Leadership of Shawn Durnen, Fee Veary, Veronica Davis, Larry Terk, Rosemary Hibler and Joe Lewis Jr. the newest initiative and partnership with King County began. Shawn Durnen and Ryan Mielcarek (Platoon Leader) with The Mission Continues began a joint-task force to identify, develop and support a county wide push to end homelessness, this also marked the first city wide state of emergency on homelessness.
Turbulence marked Seattle, as the movement for support funding grew with the population of Veterans seeking housing, support services, transportation and much more. Luckily with the State of emergency in full affect and Operation Welcome One Home addressing the local and state issues, King county was adequately prepared. The newly formulated system allowed meetings with public officials, city council members and the support teams from the King County Levy who funded encampments, medical and utilized the qualitative and quantitative feedback to improve the service to the veterans and families of King County. The quality and variety of programs that followed allowed Nine9Line to build a permanent presence in King County and established relationships with over 2,000 veterans that first year. By the end of 2016 Nine9Lines presence in Washington State set a record for number of Veterans served, number of programs developed in support of veterans, and largest collaboration in a county-wide state of emergency.
By the beginning of 2017 Nine9Line with its five board members, four program managers and hundreds of volunteer staff still facing growing pains with new start-ups and no permanent funding sources, but if housing for the existing programs continued there was hope. So, the heat was on to find permanent funding sources, Nine9Line began use of outreach teams to better gain grasp on the Veterans in rural areas along with reaching possible long-term sponsors. The Lacey Veterans Service Hub became the case management location for Nine9Lines management team and volunteer outreach specialist's, Seattle Central College housed our street approach teams and triage team.
Under the Leadership of Shawn Durnen in mid-2017 began the latest piece of the three-county strategic alignment.
United Veteran Services InitiativeThe United Veteran Services Initiative was born, a collaboration of 150 service providers agreed under the umbrella of Nine9Line's service memorandum additionally housed under Pierce County Community Connections (pierce county human services department) incorporating a shared coordinated entry system that allows for all agencies to access information on shared case management for 2000 plus veterans (lead by James Bowls of the Pierce County Veterans Bureau)
During the latter part of that year familiar names entered, expanding the services throughout Pierce, King and Thurston County: David Konkler, Mark Oravasky, Najla Neumann, Shawn Durnen, and Veronica Davis.
The early 2000's marked a boom in developing ways to better serve those who served; 2017 marked the fulfillment of a six-year dream to service veterans in a way that prevents the way that veterans in other eras were treated. and today we're persevered through an unprecedented economic downturn. But we remained strong, and committed to excellence through local and national partnership, these are just a few of the milestones that many of us have witnessed, and have worked hard to accomplish.
2017 Nine9Line marked celebration on six years of service to those who served, through dedicated Labors of Love, hours of unpaid selfless service with the common goal of community support and success, these core values will continue to drive and motivate Nine9Line for years to come.