Veterans open safe space as escape from bitter cold

28 people stayed at the American Legion post Thursday night for warmth and food

American Legion Post 134 opened as a shelter during on January 12, 2017. (KOIN)
American Legion Post 134 opened as a shelter during on January 12, 2017. (KOIN)

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 no where 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.

Military veteran Alan Artero helped those in need of a warm shelter at the American Legion Post 134 on January 13, 2017. (KOIN)
Military veteran Alan Artero helped those in need of a warm shelter at the American Legion Post 134 on January 13, 2017. (KOIN)

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.”