‘A Heroes Thanks’: New program offers incentives for vaccinated military members, veterans

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Jay Inslee announced a new vaccine incentive program for Washington’s military community and veterans. 

The state has been offering large sums of money, including a $1 million cash prize, for Washingtonians who get a COVID-19 vaccine, but the state database has not included veterans. This is because the Department of Defense has been vaccinating veterans and keeping that information in a separate database. 

“It’s a shame it wasn’t included in the first offer,” said Jim Christie, a veteran.

During a news conference Thursday, Inslee said the state has been working with the DOD to find a way to offer incentives for those military members. The solution is a new program called “A Heroes Thanks.” 

This program will be open to military, military staff and their family members who were vaccinated through the Department of Defense, the VA or the National Guard. A spokesman for Inslee said that the Department of Defense will be involved in circulating a form for military members to fill out to be part of the program.

There will be one drawing a week for three weeks starting July 20. Military members and veterans can wish cash prizes of $100,000; Amazon gift cards worth $250; or state parks gift cards worth $100. The final week, there will be a $250,000 cash prize.

“You can be a winner in this special lottery, but more important, you will be a winner at life,” said Alfir Alvarado, the director of Washington’s Department of Veterans Affair.

The incentives for the program for all Washingtonians are much higher than the ones Inslee just announced for veterans and military. The grand prize for the “Shot at Life” is $1 million, while “A Heroes Thanks” grand prize is $250,000. Inslee says he believse this is fair, since the pool is smaller.

“I’m happy we have an independent heroes pool, so we make sure heroes are going to win,” Inslee said. “Had we not done this, we couldn’t have made sure a hero was going to win.”

While Christie is happy to be part of it now, he hopes it will go to someone more in need than him.

“I certainly hope it goes to some deserving veterans. If there’s any way they can find a veterans that’s living on the streets, that’d be perfect,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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