Veterans open safe space as escape from bitter cold

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Warming shelters are opening all across the metro area as bitterly cold temperatures have already taken the lives of 4 people on Portland’s streets.

Hundreds of shelter beds have been added to emergency shelters to help those people who have nowhere else to go. One of those shelters is the American Legion post in NE Portland. The post is usually a safe space for military veterans, but now it’s serving as a warm space for anyone in need.

Volunteers there say this is their first year doing something like this, but they decided to open up after hearing about the hypothermia deaths.

Thursday night, 28 people stayed at the shelter. American Legion Post 134 not only provided those folks with a warm place to sleep, but also gave them clothes and food.

Military veteran Alan Artero says helping people this way is like a form of therapy for many veterans there.

“It’s kind of allowing us to operate in a high-intensity environment again and be around each other,” Artero said. “It’s giving us that sense of purpose, that sense of duty that we need.”

Artero was in the Army National Guard and deployed several times to the Middle East, including Iraq during the war. Now he continues the service of giving back.

“When folks come in here we really just want to make sure they feel loved, welcome,” Artero said. “We get them dry and warm, we get them coffee, make sure their belly’s full. Make sure everyone’s fat and happy.”

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