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By Lisa Loving of The Skanner News
Published: 29 October 2009

The National Black Veterans of Portland is holding an Education Employment Expo Monday, Nov. 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Oregon Convention Center.

The event is open to the public and participants should arrive "dressed for success."
Marketing Director Napoleon Hodgers says the group helps any and all veterans who need help hooking up to services.
Black or White, Hodgers says veterans often need help navigating the system to obtain the medical and pension benefits they've earned through their service to the country.
"A lot of times they have a right to different benefits but they don't even know about it because they have confusion about their discharge status, or they're just not knowing," he says. "So we walk them through the process to help them get access to this and kind of help them towards being more self-sufficient."
NABVETS was founded on the East Coast the mid-70s, but the Portland chapter wasn't started up until 2006, when a group of local veterans banded together and found funding and an office.
Hodgers himself accidentally found the organization because he saw its sign through the window of the Veterans Administration office, where he was filling out paperwork.
Unemployed since last November, Hodgers has an MBA and formerly worked at Intel.
"I was kind of feeling sorry for myself, and I looked out the window and I saw a sign that said, NABVETS National Association for Black Veterans, and I thought it was some type of social group, so I figured I would go out there and say hello.
"And I walked into the office and they had their heads down with stacks of files and they were just interviewing veterans and trying to get them their benefits, there was just two people and they were doing such hard work that I was kind of embarrassed for feeling sorry for myself because these people were doing work in their office on a volunteer basis just trying to help other people.
"So I decided I wanted to be a part of that," he said.
While the local chapter has a lot of activities right now, Hodgers says they're really focusing on jobs.
He stressed that any veterans are welcome to attend the job fair at the Convention Center.
"Just because we say 'Black veterans' -- we don't only work with Black veterans," he said. "There's about 490,000 veterans in the state of Oregon and about, say, 50,000 of them are in our local metro area.
"So it is a big, big client base. The problem is that they don't know about a lot of the things they have available to them," Hodgers said.
For more info call 503-997-1577 or visit www.Nabvetsportland.org



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