PORTLAND, Ore. – U.S. Third Fleet Sailors visited the Veteran's Affairs Portland Health Care System (VAPORHCS) during Rose Festival Fleet Week, June 10.
The festival and Portland Fleet Week are a celebration of the sea services with Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen from the U.S. and Canada making the city a port of call; in which the U.S. Navy strives to engage the surrounding community through multiple projects, highlighting another facet of the Navy’s impact.
“We bring Sailors here to engage our veterans, who are hospitalized,” said Lt. Kelli Roesch, a Portland, Oregon local who works at the medical center. “It's good for their heart and soul to see who's serving the military and carrying the torch today. Opportunities like these give nostalgia to our veterans of their service and allow young Sailors to give back and share stories with them.”
Sailors stationed aboard USS Champion (MCM 4), USS Howard (DDG 83) and USS Russell (DDG 59) met with veterans hospitalized at the facility, which provides care to more than 97,000 unique patients and manages more than 945,000 outpatient visits.
“Even if I wasn’t a veteran, this is a great opportunity for people to meet those fighting and dying for them and for those serving to meet who they’re protecting,” said Raymond Eastin, a Vietnam Era U.S. Navy beach master. “When I came home from the war, people spit on me and hated everyone who had served, it seemed at times. Now is different. It really strikes a note in my heart to see them now shaking hands, looking in each other’s eyes and growing a bond.”
The Sailors split into multiple groups to reach out to as many veterans as possible.
“That ended way too fast,” said Machinist’s Mate Fireman Cody Stroub, a Durand, Michigan, native stationed aboard Champion. “I used to do this a lot back home with my family. We’d visit my grandfather as he’d share his sea stories.”
The VAPORHCS is a two-division, joint commission accredited 1A facility that administers a full range of primary, emergency, specialty, tertiary, and long-term care to Veterans throughout Oregon and Southwestern Washington. In addition to two main divisions located in Portland and Vancouver, Washington, VAPORHCS operates nine community based outpatient/outreach clinics (CBOCs) located in Newport, Lincoln City, Warrenton, Bend, Salem, Fairview, West Linn, Hillsboro, and The Dalles. VAPORHCS also operates a Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) in downtown Portland, which serves homeless Veterans, according to their public affairs office.
For more information on VAPORHCS, visit: http://www.portland.va.gov.