The Board of County Commissioners proclaimed Nov. 11 Veterans Day in Multnomah County, honoring an estimated 44,375 veterans living in Multnomah County and more than 400 County staff.
“I always appreciate this proclamation,” said Chair Deborah Kafoury. “We get to talk to not only folks in our community who are dedicated to helping other people who have the same experience of serving in our military, but I also enjoy hearing from our County employees.”
Veterans Day dates back to 1954 when Congress formally established the holiday as a way to honor all American veterans. It replaced Armistice Day, which commemorated the armistice agreement signed between the World War I Allies and Germany, marking the end of World War I.
Commissioner Sharon Meieran, who chairs the Multnomah County’s Veterans Task Force, sponsored the proclamation. She introduced a panel of invited speakers, which included County staff and community members serving the local veteran community. “These are people who have used their lived experience to improve the lives of veterans, who we are honoring today,” Commissioner Meieran said.
Chris Aiosa is the executive director of Do Good Multnomah, a non-profit that helps veterans access low-barrier emergency shelter. He was among a handful of speakers to share his story with the Board of Commissioners Thursday.
Nearly 12 percent of residents identified in the latest Point In Time count, Multnomah County’s record of people experiencing homelessness, are veterans. Of those individuals, almost 34 percent are chronically homeless. Aiosa said he is partnering with the Joint Office of Homeless Services to keep local veterans housed.
“As a veteran, I found the need to serve veterans living on the street,” Aiosa said. “This work is so obviously important to me, and it’s needed. We need to invest in veteran communities, for permanent supportive housing.”
Another one of the invited speakers, Pete Perez, works as a Veterans’ Services officer for the Department of County Human Services. His job is to connect Multnomah County veterans with the state and federal benefits they’ve earned from their military service.
“For me, this responsibility is an extension of my service in the military, as I continue to care for my fellow soldier, sailor, airman, and marine: my family,” he said. “As a 20-year United States Army retiree, I am honored and privileged by Multnomah County’s actions and recognition of Veteran’s Day.”
Napoleon Hodgers, the outreach director for the Portland chapter of the National Association of Black Veterans (NABVets), was also part of the panel. Similar to the County’s Veterans’ Services team, NABVets helps advocate for service members in their claims for veterans benefits. The organization was founded in the 1960s to help African-American veterans returning from the Vietnam War, and has since grown to advocate for all who have served.
“We basically help any veteran or their family member that walks through the door,” Hodgers said. “We’ve brought in over $20 million through the Portland Metro Area with an office of three volunteers.”
Are you a veteran or a family member of a veteran in Multnomah County? Set up an appointment with a Veterans’ Services Officer to find out if you’re eligible for state or federal veteran benefits:
By Phone: 503-988-VETS(8387)