Service and sacrifice: Board proclaims Nov. 11 Veterans Day in Multnomah County

November 5, 2015

Members of the Multnomah County Veterans Employee Resource Group celebrate the Veterans Day proclamation with the Board of Commissioners.

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners Thursday proclaimed Nov. 11 Veterans Day in Multnomah County, to honor the more than 44,000 county residents who have served in the United States military.

“Thank you all for your service,” said Commissioner Diane McKeel, who brought forward the proclamation in partnership with the county’s Veterans Employee Resource Group. “This holiday is a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. These are values we strive to realize every day of the year.”

She asked veterans and their families to stand, to rousing applause.

Among those who stood was Eric Ensley, a supervisor with Multnomah County Veterans’ Services.

“Thank you for taking time from your busy schedules to recognize Veterans Day in Multnomah County,” he said.

Commissioner Diane McKeel
Commissioner Diane McKeel

It is that commitment - both within the county and with outside agencies and nonprofits, that helped his office reach an increasing number of veterans across the county. Last year saw a 75 percent increase in the number of local veterans filing federal benefits claims. And his staff has quintupled their community contacts.

“But we have just begun to scratch the surface,” Ensley said. That’s why his office is launching a volunteer veterans’ mentorship program to pair veterans who are struggling with veterans who have overcome some of those same struggles.

It’s a role they’re calling a “battle buddy.”

“I’d like to say we also stand shoulder to shoulder with you as your battle buddy as you serve our community,” he said.

That same network of outside partners has made it possible --  despite record low vacancy rates and soaring rents -- for A Home for Every Veteran to place 150 veterans in apartments of their own, Chair Deborah Kafoury said. With an average placement of two veterans per day, the group is on track to find homes by the end of 2015 to every homeless veteran it has been identified.

Among the adults in the room was one slight blond-haired boy, Kadin Patterson. The 10-year-old Troutdale boy has gotten use to living with one parent. For much of his life, either his mom or his dad was serving overseas. Right now it’s his father who is gone. This time in Afganistan.

Kadin Patterson (center) with his mother Angela Patterson, Logistic Specialist 1st Class, US Navy LS1 and grandfather Michael Taylor, retired Oregon Army National Seg. 1st Class.

Last year he organized a fun run to raise money for the USO Northwest Portland Center at the Portland International Airport. Now he’s organizing a second run to raise money for homeless veterans (watch Kadin’s story here).

“I’m always impressed that a single person can make a big difference; to realize that a such a tender age, just gives me hope for the future,” Commissioner Judy Shiprack told him. “Congratulations to you young man, for showing all of us what a big difference one person can make.”