The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners Thursday proclaimed Nov. 11 Veterans Day in Multnomah County, in honor of people who have served in the United States military, including the more than 44,000 veterans living in Multnomah County.
“Today, we recognize all of the brave people from many diverse backgrounds who have served our country as members of the Armed Forces,” said Commissioner Sharon Meieran said, who represents the Board on the Multnomah County Veterans Task Force. “Multnomah County, I’m proud to say, is committed to honoring the incredible sacrifices that are made by our veterans by providing the specialized resources necessary for veterans to heal and succeed in their lives.”
Veterans Day, a national public holiday, is celebrated every year on November 11. The day was originally celebrated as Armistice Day to mark the anniversary of the end of World War I, which concluded on Nov. 11, 1918. The holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all military veterans.
“Veterans Day is a holiday to thank the veterans who still walk among us,” said Kim Douthit, Multnomah County’s Veterans Services Program Supervisor said. “They are your neighbors, coworkers, friends and, yes, voters.”
Douthit oversees the County’s Veterans’ Services Office, which is accredited by the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs to represent veterans in their claims for benefits. The office is part of the Aging, Disability and Veteran Services Division of the Department of County Human Services. Veterans’ Services Officers interpret federal laws to provide the best representation possible to veterans and surviving spouses for their entitlement to VA benefits.
“We know that service in the Armed Forces carries risks not only while in active duty, but after active service has ended,” Meieran said. “The reentry process from military life into everyday society can be fraught with barriers and challenges, from housing and healthcare to education and employment.”
The Veterans Services Office is one of several County offices -- including, for instance, the Joint Office of Homeless Services -- that offers programs and services for veterans.
“There’s so much that the County is doing for veterans,” said Lawrence Russell, a U.S. Army veteran and finance supervisor in the County’s Central Purchasing office. Russell is a member of the County’s Veterans Employee Resource Group, which provides support to and identifies resources for County employees who are married or related a current or former service member. “This organization helped me when I first started and I didn’t know which way to go, as a veteran, what to do. It helped me with some challenges and helped me overcome some things.”
The proclamation, which was introduced by Commissioner Loretta Smith, made specific reference to the service of African Americans and the National Association for Black Veterans. The association advocates for youth and families and pushes to empower low-income and minority veterans, among other things.
“We don’t often think about them when we think about our veterans,” Smith said.
Several members of the association’s Portland chapter, including Former Oregon State Senator Bill Boyer, were present for Thursday’s meeting.
“We raised our hand to protect this country, this county and this state,” Boyer said. “We are career veterans. We’re educators. We’re homeowners and taxpayers. We support Multnomah County and we support our commissioners.”