The student group promotes networking and conversation
Today the Viking Vets—Portland State’s student veterans group—will host their annual Veterans Day celebration in anticipation of tomorrow’s national holiday.
The free event, which takes place from noon to 2 p.m. in Parkway North on the first floor of the Smith Memorial Student Union, is intended to honor and celebrate the service of Portland-area veterans, and is open to the public. The celebration will feature refreshments, speakers and information on resources available to local veterans.
According to communication major Paul Polsin, the vice president of Viking Vets, the celebration is a chance to “highlight how much we appreciate the veterans within the community and try to give back to them.”
Representatives from organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans, WorkSource Oregon and the Iraq Veterans Stress Project will be on hand to help local veterans learn how to take advantage of the resources available to them, such as assistance filing medical claims and receiving employment-related support.
Polsin notes that there are at least 900 Portland State students receiving veteran benefits, but it’s possible there are many more student veterans who might not be taking advantage of the resources that are available to them. The Viking Vets, as a student-run group, seeks to help student veterans become more aware of those services. Additionally, they work to bring veterans together in order to strengthen the voice of the veteran community both on and off campus.
Portland State shares a long history with student veterans. In fact, the school was originally founded in 1946 to meet the needs of GIs returning home from World War II. That tradition continues today, especially as larger numbers of veterans return to Oregon from serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. The celebration on Thursday is just one way in which the Viking Vets seek to connect veterans with the larger veteran community. Viking Vets also sponsors workshops and seminars and offers free counseling.
The Viking Vets also makes an effort to educate the larger campus community about the importance of veterans and fostering connections between different student groups. The group recently hosted a moderated discussion forum with the Queer Resource Center regarding the rescinded Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Additionally, the student veterans joined with Portland State’s Muslim Student Association to host recurring dinners in order to “promote conversation and understanding between people of different cultures,” according to the Viking Vets’ website.
Today’s event features former U.S. Representative Darlene Hooley (D-OR) as the keynote speaker. Congresswoman Hooley represented Oregon’s 5th District from 1997–2009, and since leaving Congress, she has continued to support veteran-related causes, particularly when it comes to education. President of the Viking Vets Dave Christensen said via email, “Representative Hooley was a staunch supporter of veterans…Since leaving Congress, Darlene has continued to support our military and veteran heroes by establishing the Darlene Hooley Scholarship for Oregon Veterans through a generous personal contribution.”
All students are welcome to join in Thursday’s celebration or stop by for drinks and refreshments.