On the verge of celebrating their third year in Portland, the National Association for Black Veterans will be participating in two events this Veterans Day.
The Hollywood Veterans Day Parade will begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 11 in the QFC parking lot, 1835 NE 33rd Ave. in Portland. Parade participants are encouraged to wear their berets, caps and other pieces of military clothing. Assembly begins at 8: 30 a.m.
At 11 a.m., veterans will be gathering at the Vietnam Memorial starting at 11 a.m. at the Oregon Zoo parking lot.
Former state Sen. Bob Boyer said he was very proud of the work his organization has been doing in the Portland area. Here's what he had to say about NABVETS:
"We've been in a number of stand downs at Clackamas Community College, that's where they had the big yellow ribbon program when the troops come back home from Iraq and Afghanistan. We've participated in a number of health programs, trying to get good information about eating right, taking care of themselves and fighting cancer.
One of the main things about our chapter is we help veterans file for their benefits. Our office is at 1 Main St. downtown, since the federal building is being revamped. There we file and make sure veterans get the benefits they're entitled to, since we're on the federal hook-up with our computers.
That helps get the vets their benefits. While they can do it individually, we can do it a lot faster. We also try to upgrade their discharges. If they have a general, we try to make it under honorable conditions. We also try to inform the families – the widows – of what benefits their entitled. If they need a job or housing, we have information for referrals.
Since these folks have put their life on the line, and wounded in the service, they don't have the patience that you or I may have.
WE still have a few (veterans) from WWII, a few out of Korea. A majority are from Vietnam. The youngsters are starting to come back from (Afghanistan and Iraq). They come up to the older guys and say 'we need a little help' …
When I got out of the service in '62, I didn't want to be bothered with the service for five years until I started going to college and using the loans … those opportunities. … Fortunately I wasn't wounded so I didn't have to use the VA hospital. Now when I sit down and talk to a couple of veterans (from Afghanistan and Iraq), they made it clear why they don't want to be bothered, right now till things smooth out. A lot of them lose their families, their homes, their relationships. I had no idea that 50 percent of homeless people in this country are veterans. Well, one of the things for a veteran -- as an example – if they were in a tank or vehicle and it ran over a landmine, if the driver or gunner is wounded or killed, and the hatch is jammed, the thing is on fire and they get claustrophobia. When they get out, they don't want to be enclosed anymore, and when they get out of the service they don't want to be enclosed because they feel that claustrophobia, they don't want to be bothered by forms or supervisors or foremans. That's what we call a chill-out. Sometimes it takes them a little more than five years.
A lot of guys can't even talk about it. Look at the youngsters losing their limbs. Think about your best friends losing his legs. So we give them a form they can write down and talk about it. We act as a pressure release for them."
Contact the NABVETS at 503.412.4159 or [email protected] or at www.nabvetsportland.org