Vets Helping Vets HQ has always been about making a difference in the lives of all veterans and their families.
In the summertime, one of the best ways to make that difference is to give them a chance to get together for a meal, music and fun in the sun.
That's how organizers see the annual Vets Helping Vets HQ summer picnic, scheduled this year for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Monteith Riverpark.
All veterans of all ages and all branches of military service are invited, as are their families, said Debbie Modesitt, treasurer advocate volunteer. No admission is charged.
The picnic will include a Veterans Listening Session held by the Veterans Administration Portland Health Care System and VA Portland Regional Office directors.
Vendors planning to attend this year include the VA Vet Center, Albany American Legion Post 10, Samaritan Health Services, South Willamette Honor Flight, Brookdale Senior Living, Oregon National Guard and others.
Also on tap are a 50/50 drawing, raffle prizes, a silent auction and face painting. Classic rock will be performed from noon to 3 p.m. by mid-valley rock group Edge.
Representatives with Vets Helping Vets HQ will be on hand to help veterans file a VA claim or work on an appeal if a claim has been denied. That's the overall mission of the organization, which Vietnam veteran Victor Kuhns founded to help veterans like himself navigate the military medical system.
"Our assistance is all free," Modesitt said. "And we’re all volunteers, no one’s paid. We’re just a group that’s trying to look out for our veterans. Any veteran, any age.”
It's important, she said, because veterans need help but often don't get it and don't know where to go for assistance. People at Vets Helping Vets HQ can be their advocates.
"They put their lives on the line for us," she said. "It’s the least we can do for them."
This is the second year the picnic will be held at Monteith Riverpark, and organizers are expecting a record 500 people to attend.
"It's just for all of us to get together to have a good time," Modesitt said. "We want to honor them for their service and everything they’ve done for us. We don’t want them forgotten."