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Q&A with executive director of Veterans Association of North County

 Honor wall and community gathering area set for the Veterans Association of North County
Rendering of the honor wall and outdoor community gathering area to be built at the Veterans Association of North County resource center, 1617 Mission Ave. in Oceanside.
(Courtesy of VANC)

Q&A with Lori Boody, executive director of the Veterans Association of North County

The Veterans Association of North County resource center in Oceanside serves thousands of area service members, veterans and families. Lori Boody, executive director of VANC, took some time recently to answer some questions about the veterans association and its programs.

Q: What is going on these days at the Veterans Association of North County, 1617 Mission Ave., in Oceanside?
A: VANC is in full holiday mode. We sponsor Christmas parties each year for active duty and their families. This year we have five units that will receive a full holiday turkey dinner with all the dressings along with music and toys for every child.

Q: What is the mission of the nonprofit Veterans Association of North County, known as VANC — a network of veteran groups helping area service members?
A: VANC is committed to serving veterans, active-duty military and family members in whatever form they need. We are a full-service resource center that centralizes services from diverse agencies to assist with jobs, education, finances and health and wellness, including offering weekly yoga classes at the resource center.

Q: VANC offers a number of training programs — what areas do they cover?
A: Our Vets Beyond the Uniform, for example, is not a transition course, it is a transformation course. We offer full career success packages specifically crafted to provide the key skills needed to hit the ground running. Each Career Success Package includes personal mentoring and coaching to provide real-world application insights. Some of the training is hands on at the center and some is virtual.

Q: Who can attend the training?
A: The Vets Beyond the Uniform course is designed for the veteran or active-duty service member preparing for separation from the military. We will be offering spouse and children age 16 years and older the opportunity to take the Career Success Package later in 2022.

Q: Can the public attend the Veterans Advisory Committee meetings?
A: Yes, the public can also attend. The VANC Veterans Advisory Committee meets the first Monday of the month and several area nonprofits discuss programs they offer to help veterans. Nonprofits are welcome to sign up to speak at the meeting about their services for military members. Contact Committee Chairperson Lori Boody at (760) 722.1277 or lori@vanc.me.

Q: Do you need volunteers at the resource center?
A: Yes, volunteer duties include front desk operations, handyman/maintenance, events setup and take down and light cleaning a few hours a week. Shifts are normally from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (760) 722-1277 or email eileen@vanc.me.

Q: VANC has been offering monthly drive-thru food distributions for area military folks since spring of 2020 — about how many folks have you served?
A: VANC’s response to the COVID pandemic was to start a food and diaper distribution for active-duty and military veterans, and our volunteers logged in 6,094 in the effort. From April 2020 to December 2021, we served a total of 34,218 active duty, veterans and their families, including some deliveries to homebound veterans. About 90 percent of the participants were active duty. Many active-duty spouses were furloughed within five weeks of the start of the pandemic and during the height of the pandemic we were serving over 700 families. Thank goodness we are now seeing things go back to pre-pandemic levels. The final distribution was earlier this month.

Q: Can you give an update on the VANC resource center’s honor wall and outdoor gathering area?
A: We not only serve veterans, we honor veterans and are building an honor wall and community event space.
The wall will be filled with bronze plaques honoring active-duty service members and veterans. We are working on the final phases and are currently fundraising for the fifth and final phase to completion. The total project cost is estimated at $385,000, and we are down to raising our last $38,000. We are selling plaques in various sizes, ranging from $150-$500.

Q: Any special goals for the coming year?
A: Our true goal is to complete the honor wall and community event space before summer of 2022 and have a full USO Show and ribbon-cutting on our huge outdoor stage.


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