Veterans’ needs the focus of ‘Stand Down’

The second annual Tillamook Veterans Stand Down Friday was bigger and better than the first time, according to participants at the Tillamook County fairgrounds.

By Brad Mosher

More than 60 people came in the first wave of people entering the Stand Down.

According to Elly Blaser of Goodwill’s Job Connection, people were lined at the front door waiting to get into the Stand Down.

Vet Heroes on Water_4912 CMYK
Shannon Anderson, of Garibaldi, has opened a local chapter of Heroes on the Water. Citizen photo/Brad Mosher

Tillamook Veterans Services Officer Bill Hatton, a large number of the people he saw Friday morning were new contacts.

The Oregon Helpline is funded by the Oregon Department of Veteran Affairs, with the goal to reach as many Oregon Veterans as possible, according to Matt Kowslowski, the military services coordinator for a Portland non-profit and a spokesman for the program attending the annual Stand Down at the Tillamook County Fairgrounds.

“There is a huge disconnect when folks get out of the military and there is not a major military installation around. You can feel abandoned. They do not have services,” he said.

Tillamook Bay Community College also had a booth at the stand down, with Sally Jackson hoping to explain the ways that veterans can get some educational help from the two-year college.

“We are hoping to help veterans identify what their benefits are if they want to attend college and activate the college educational benefits,” Jackson said.

According to Jackson, veterans interested in finding out more information can come to the student services window at the college.

Worksource Oregon also had a station set up at the stand down, with the representatives focusing on trying to help veterans find employment.

“It is going really good, “ Patrick Preston said Friday morning shortly after the stand down started. “We’ve talked to 10 or 12 veterans. A new one just came through, a disabled veteran going to college.

“We start assisting him in reducing barriers to employment, the Worksource Disabled Veterans’ Outreach program specialist added. “He’s got sort of a survival job.”

That veteran had a background in botany and Worksource had some job posters looking for someone with that background, Preston said.

“Stuff like that is what we do… eliminate barriers,” he added.

A year ago, Worksource handled about seven veterans who signed up during the first Veterans Stand Down in Tillamook, Preston said.

“A Stand Down is respite. It is a chance for veterans to come in and take a load off, stop worrying, heal and get services. We are just a small piece of that puzzle, if they are not ready for employment possibly.”

Preston, who splits his time between Astoria and Tillamook, “I’ts more than just employment. It is how do we assist them.”

Preston already described the 2016 version as a success. “Absolutely. I started doing this back in 2006 in Astoria. The thing was, if you can help one veteran, we have accomplished what we have set out to do.”

The Veterans of Foreign Wars organization had two stations – one for the veterans who served during foreign wars and the other by the organization’s auxiliary.

The auxiliary handed out potholders to the veterans made by a member who was more than 100 years old.

“She made 107 by the time she turned 100. She wanted to do 200 more before she turned 101 but she fell and broke her shoulder so she only made 147 or something like that,” according to Kay Saddler, a member of the Lake Oswego Auxiliary who lives in South Tillamook County.

The Stand Down also had tables for veterans interested in finding jobs with businesses in the area like Wells Fargo, and others.

In addition, veterans had an opportunity to pick up tools if they needed for no charge with a group called Tools 4 Troops. The organization is based in Lake Oswego.