170 veterans turned out for a Gresham outreach effort aimed at helping the underserved in the Eastern Metro area.
Kim Pettina with the Salvation Army says open-door stand downs are a proven way to reach vets in need with basic services like a hot meal, haircuts, clothes, and basic medical screenings, but there are still people falling through the cracks.
“There’s a group in East County,” Pettina said. “It’s the population that’s forgotten, down at the Sandy River that are homeless that we’re not reaching. it’s very hard to go into those camps and get them to come in for resources.”
Pettina says Troutdale police and officers with Multnomah County made some headway handing out flyers in the camps in advance of the event.
Pettina and others helped people get access to VA benefits, be it hearing aids, or getting bureaucratic wheels turning for a disability check. Pettina says the crowd she’s seeing this day is a mix of older vets from Vietnam, and younger ones having trouble reintegrating after Iraq and Afghanistan.
Long lines of men waited for free army surplus clothes, tents, sleeping bags, pet supplies, and more.
“A lot of it is brand new,” Kim Pettina said. “Some of it is used - sleeping bags, we went out and bought some stoves, rain gear and stuff, also.”
All provided free.