Graduates

ARMY: Army Private Erik Cairus graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C. Cairus is a 2011 graduate of Stanwood High School and is the son of Patrick Cairus and Amanda Dietzman of Stanwood.

MARINES: Marine Corps Private Christian Campbell graduated from recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C. Campbell is the son of April Thielmeyes of Sedro-Woolley and Michael Campbell of Batavia, Ohio.

NAVY: Three U.S. Navy sailors from our area recently completed eight weeks of basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill.

Navy Seaman Recruit Edward Pefley is the son of Monica and James Pefley of Clear Lake and is a 2010 graduate of Sedro-Woolley High School.

Navy Seaman Recruit John Mark Abides is the son of John and stepson of Hermie Abides of Oak Harbor.

Navy Seaman Steven Velador is the son of Danny Velador of Sedro-Woolley and is a 2011 graduate of Sedro-Woolley High School.

Announcements

FREE COURSE: All veterans and active duty personnel are eligible for a free AARP Driver Safety classroom course in November. Learn safety strategies and save money on your car insurance. Call 1-888-687-2277 for information.

RIDE FOR LIFE: The Soldiers Ride for Life cross-country motorcycle tour, Stop Soldier Suicide’s most important awareness campaign of the year, departed Sept. 28 from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Stop Soldier Suicide’s CEO Brian Kinsella led the two-week tour of 11 military installations in an effort to build more partnerships and spread the word about military suicide prevention. Visit stopsoldiersuicide.org?page_id=491 for information.

WWU — ‘MILITARY FRIENDLY’: The web-based “G.I. Jobs” magazine has selected Western Washington University in Bellingham as a Military Friendly School of 2013, the third consecutive year the school has been recognized by the institution. The rank places Western in the top 15 percent of all higher education institutions nationwide in terms of assisting America’s military service members and veterans as students. The list appears on the G.I. Jobs website, GIjobs.com, and will be highlighted in the annual Guide to Military Friendly Schools, which is based on surveys of more than 12,000 schools nationwide.

FISHER HOUSE DONATION: United Healthcare recently donated more than $25,000 to Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fisher House to assist the families of wounded U.S. military members. The donation supports one year’s worth of lodging and support costs for all families staying at the base. Fisher Houses are 5,000- to 16,800-square-foot homes, donated to the military, where families can stay while a loved one is receiving treatment.

SUPPORT TROOPS: S-W Community Troop Support can connect you with a soldier penpal serving overseas, who would love to receive letters and cards during the holidays and year-round. Visit www.swcommunitytroopsupport.com or call 360-856-5143, ext. 1703.

Veterans assistance

Military veterans in Skagit County can utilize several local programs that offer free assistance.

BENEFIT CLAIMS:

• Skagit Community Action offers outreach and referral to groups that assist veterans and their widows with service-related claims, including health care enrollment, compensation and pension claims, counseling, death and burial benefits. 360-416-7585.

• Skagit Valley Disabled American Veterans Chapter 59 offers claim-filing assistance in Concrete for the Veterans Administration and other required services by appointment. 360-853-8767.

• Whidbey Island Disabled American Veterans Chapter 47 offers evening claims assistance by appointment. 360-257-4801.

HEALTH CARE: Veterans Outpatient Clinic, 307 S. 13th St., Suite 200, Mount Vernon, offers primary and mental health care to veterans, 800-329-8387 ext. 76542 or www.va.gov.

MEDICAL TRAVEL: Disabled American Veterans and American Legion groups offer transportation for veterans to the Seattle VA Puget Sound Medical Center. Volunteer drivers are needed; vehicle, fuel and related expenses are provided. Call 360-855-2225 in Sedro-Woolley, 360-257-4801 in Oak Harbor, or 206-764-2195 at the Veterans Administration.

MEDICAL EQUIPMENT: Skagit Valley Disabled American Veterans Chapter 59 collects donations of wheelchairs, crutches, power chairs and other health care items and distributes them to veterans returning from overseas. For pick-up or delivery information, call 360-420-4046.

Area service groups

Active and inactive military personnel can find support or activities at these organizations:

American Legion Post 147, Conway: 360-445-2210.

American Legion Post 132, Concrete. 360-853-8940

American Legion Post 43, Sedro-Woolley: 360-855-0520.

Skagit Veterans Support Group: 360-855-2225.

Marine Corps League, Skagit Valley Detachment: 360-708-9199.

National Association for Black Veterans, Northwest Chapter: 360-631-1220.

Skagit Valley Disabled American Veterans: 360-420-4046.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5056 and Auxiliary: 360-853-8908.

Whidbey Island Disabled American Veterans: Evening claims assistance by appointment in Seaplane Base Building 13. 360-257-4801.

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