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MAY 2018 |








Marion County Veterans: On June 4, your Veteran Service Office is moving To a new Location to better serve you.

615 commercial street n.e., salem As part of a partnership between the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Marion County and Mid-Valley Community Action Agency, Marion County veterans will soon be served by a new dedicated veteran services program. Beginning Monday, June 4, the Marion County Veteran Service Office will be relocated to The ARCHES Project at 615 Commercial St. N.E., and all appointments for veteran services in Marion County will take place there. To make an appointment, or for more information, please call 503-399-9118.

Acting DIRECTOR Mitch Sparks

United We Serve


t is an exciting time for veteran services in Oregon. Last year, following the public’s resounding support of Measure 96 — which dedicated 1.5 percent of net Lottery revenues to better serve Oregon veterans — the governor and the Legislature worked together to deliver a historic investment in the state’s veteran resources. Their budget allocated $26.1 million for the 2017-2019 biennium — the largest investment in veteran services in the state’s history, and more than double that of the previous biennium. Their bold actions guaranteed greater access and improved outcomes for veterans in their health care, education and economic opportunity, and we are already starting to see their investment pay dividends. Our leaders put an emphasis on investing in one of the most important and unique assets in the state’s veteran resource landscape: our network of highly trained and experienced veteran service officers, which stretches across Oregon, with at least one office in every county. The state’s 2017-2019 budget doubled funding for veteran service offices and national service organizations in Oregon, which will directly translate to more trained VSOs, more office hours, more appointments and more resources for veterans and their families, in their local communities. Of particular interest to Marion County residents is the news that the county will be opening its own dedicated veteran service office later this year. For many years, ODVA has served Marion County veterans out of our own offices in Salem, and we are thrilled about the opportunity to partner with the county and with Mid-Valley Community Action Agency on this new venture. Thanks to the tireless advocacy of the veteran community, mental health funding remains a top priority, and ODVA is grateful to be partnering with the Oregon Health Authority to disburse $2.5 million that has been dedicated to veteran behavioral services and to help veterans in crisis.

On a different but equally critical front, we are partnering with the housing experts at Oregon Housing and Community Services on how to best leverage $1.5 million in new funding to fight veteran homelessness in our state. Our partners are our greatest asset. That’s why we are so excited about two substantial new grant opportunities that were made possible in the Legislature’s veteran funding package. The first established a grant fund to secure veteran student success and expand campus veteran resource centers. These centers are crucial in helping veterans transition from military service and succeed in their educational goals, and this grant funding made a critical $1 million investment in veteran resource centers at 14 of Oregon’s public universities and community colleges. The second grant fund allocated $550,000 for targeted investments in key projects to improve veterans’ access to transportation, housing, health care and other critical services across the state. Ten outstanding proposals were selected for funding, all of them submitted by nonprofits, governmental and community organizations that are already providing incredible and much-needed services to Oregon veterans and their families. As the ODVA team continues its work to implement Lottery-funded programs, I am astounded by the dedication and creativity of those who work on the front lines of veteran services, both in our network of veteran service offices and in our many partner agencies across the state. They have demonstrated, time and time again, their willingness to sacrifice whatever it takes to ensure every single veteran receives the very best in care, benefits and opportunity our state can provide. It is my privilege and honor to work with them every day.

Our partners are our greatest asset.


Published May 2018



Oregon Veterans News Magazine is a free publication by the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Each issue contains current information impacting veterans in Oregon including federal VA topics and state, regional and local happenings.

ODVA reaches more than 25,000 veterans and their families through this print and electronic publication. We welcome story ideas and tips about veteran concerns, issues and programs that are important, informative and/or a great tidbit of news that other veterans would enjoy reading about. To inquire or submit a piece for consideration, please use the contact information below. Submissions for the next issue must be received by October 12, 2018.


Oregon Veterans News Magazine 700 Summer St. NE, Salem, OR, 97301 503-373-2389 | Executive Editor: Tyler Francke Production Editor: Kathie Dalton Copy Editor: Sarah Dressler


Marine Reserve member Elijah Carillo, who is pursuing his dream of becoming a police officer with the help of his VA onthe-job training benefits.


Nonprofit training pups to help veterans cope with PTSD


Lost Purple Heart returned to widow of WWII airman


Four-legged friends spread cheer at veterans’ home


First female commander of American Legion visits state


‘Rosie’ gardens memorialize iconic WWII-era riveter


Long-suffering Vietnam vet finds healing in the skies


Remembering Oregon’s Linda Campbell, the first U.S. veteran to secure a burial plot for a same-sex spouse in a national cemetery.


Transitioning to a civilian career, and not sure college is the right fit? The VA’s on-thejob training and apprenticeship opportunities have you covered.


Sometimes, newly discharged vets need to polish their resumes, and sometimes they need help with translation. Corey Freeman helps with both.



12 16



In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, a La Grande veteran recalls his experiences.



A WWII veteran’s Bronze Star lay in a state vault for decades, and might have been lost forever. Instead, last year it was seen safely into his daughter’s hands.


Wounded warrior parking permits, free hunting tags and more in our 2018 legislative session review


Federal and state veteran benefit updates for the first half of 2018



A Deeper Look: Inside the VA’s catastrophic disability designation; what it is, and how to qualify


Military caregiver Carol Snider shares joys and challenges in the lives of veterans’ ‘hidden heroes.’


Veteran news headlines from across the state and nation


Featured books about veterans and military service by local and national writers


Volunteer, See, Connect, Relax: A brief sampling of things to do for Oregon veterans and their families


Success stories from the front lines of Oregon’s veteran service officers

Vet’s Best Friend

Hillsboro-based nonprofit is helping veterans reclaim their lives, one pup at a time Above: Christina Mulick, a dog trainer with Paws Assisting Veterans, sits with a yellow lab named “Marshal” in her apartment in Bethany, Ore. (Hillsboro Tribune photo by Christopher Oertell) 6


ix months ago, T.J. Theodoroff was worried he might not survive. After a career in the military, Theodoroff — a combat veteran of both the U.S. Army and the Air Force — struggled for years to adapt to civilian life. He found himself unable to enter stores, or interact in crowds. Loud noises would trigger anxiety attacks. At night, Theodoroff would pace around his Lebanon home, on patrol for danger. He thought seriously about quitting his job as a network analyst for the city of Salem. “The military teaches you to always be vigilant,” he said. “In combat, you are hypervigilant. It’s how you survive. When you are

in that state for so long, it becomes second nature. You get over stimulated.” But Theodoroff says his life turned around after he met Jag, a 3-year-old black Labrador retriever who goes with Theodoroff everywhere he goes. Jag is more than a pet. The dog is specially trained to help him with his day-to-day routine, thanks to a Hillsboro nonprofit group that works with veterans across the state, free of charge. Formed in 2010, Paws Assisting Veterans, or PAVE, provides service dogs to veterans with mental and physical disabilities. The dogs fill a vital need, said Executive Director Christina Mulick. Nationally, an

By Geoff Pursinger, Hillsboro Tribune Reprinted with permission.

IN THE Community

Veteran T.J. Theodoroff, on his service dog, Jag

He is absolutely amazing. Without him, I would be a shut in. That’s where I was headed.

average of 22 veterans commit suicide every day. For many veterans, the wounds they bring home from the battlefield are invisible. Many struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder or other disabilities. Many have anxiety attacks or nightmares. Their bodies are convinced they are in lifethreatening situations, Mulick said. “Their heart is racing and they are in dire fear for their lives, but they’re having that experience at the checkout of a Safeway,” Mulick said. “I have a new appreciation for what these veterans have been through.” Based in a business park off Cornelius Pass Road, PAVE serves about five new

veterans each year. Oregon is home to more than 323,000 veterans. Mulick estimated about 18 percent of them have some sort of disability. “Some say they haven’t gone into a store for five years,” Mulick said. “They eat fast food and sit in their car. It can be really isolating. They are afraid to go to sleep.” The nonprofit is one of only three service dog organizations in Oregon accredited by Assistance Dogs International, which sets standards for assistance dogs across the globe. In January, the organization received a $5,000 grant from the Oregon International Air Show. Donations and grants are important to the organization, Mulick said. PAVE makes sure veterans never have to pay for the animals they receive. The group survives entirely off of fundraisers and donations. Theodoroff served in the U.S. military for more than 20 years and saw combat in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, among other places. It was an experience that changed him, he said. “There have been points that were debilitating,” he said. Coming home, loud noises and crowded places soon became too much for him, he said. Theodoroff was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. That, coupled with other health issues, made it difficult for Theodoroff to reintegrate into society, he said. To cope, Theodoroff would go places only with his wife or 11-year-old daughter, who could steer him away from situations that would trigger an anxiety attack. “Being in places like [The] Home Depot, where there is so much activity and loud noises and people bumping into you. It’s too much,” he said. “My daughter would be on top of it. They would see people up ahead and say, ‘Let’s go this way instead,’ or go do something else.” But that added more stress, he said. “The impact on your family is horrible. When your kids are always on alert that puts distance between you. They can’t enjoy themselves, because they are always concerned

about you. It causes issues, on top of the anxiety. You want to shut down.” Theodoroff knew he had to do something. After learning about veteran service dogs, he contacted PAVE last year. “It was time for me to be independent,” he said. After working with PAVE, Theodoroff and Jag are inseparable. Jag opens doors, drags laundry baskets and picks up items off the floor. At work, Jag goes to meetings with Theodoroff and has a small bed at his cubicle. He wears a special vest, which contains Theodoroff ’s medication and documentation. “He is absolutely amazing,” he said. “Without him, I would be a shut in. That’s where I was headed. Because of him, I’m able to go into stores. Before, I knew if I went in I would have to leave because of anxiety attack or I would get overwhelmed. Now I know if I start having a hard time, he’ll get my attention, he’ll remove me from the situation.” The group’s founder, Michelle Nelson, formed the organization nearly a decade ago after her son returned from serving in the Navy. “There was one man we worked with who had nightmares that seemed so real he tied up his family. They couldn’t wake him up,” Nelson said. “He eventually had to leave, he was afraid he would hurt them. Now, the dog is able to sense when he is having a nightmare and wake him up before they get in too deep.” Theodoroff said the service animal helps him cope. “Nothing will take away what I’ve been through, or make things magically better,” he said. “But having a service dog is lifechanging.” Theodoroff volunteers with the organization in any way he can, he said. Last year, he attended the group’s annual fundraiser, to speak about the work Jag has done for him. “You can’t put a price on what I’ll do for Jag,” Theodoroff said. “I would give up many, many things in my life for him. My life has been totally changed. It’s amazing.” 7

IN the Community

By Jennifer Moody, Albany Democrat-Herald Reprinted with permission.

From the Heart Billy Huffman was killed in action during World War II. Soon after, his Purple Heart was also lost. That was the end of it, until a Linn County veteran set out to track down the man’s 96-year-old widow and make sure she got it back. Randy Martinak displays the Purple Heart that he hand-delivered to the widow of airman Billy Huffman last month. (Democrat-Herald photo by Mark Ylen)


illy Huffman’s Purple Heart vanished shortly after the end of World War II, when the foot locker in which it was stored disappeared. Now, thanks to the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the diligence of Randy Martinak of the Linn County Veterans Memorial Association, the Linn County man’s widow recently got it back. It took more than a year to work through the official channels to get a new Purple Heart made bearing Huffman’s name. Last month, Martinak traveled to San Diego to present the badge to Betty Rosevear, now in her late 90s, who married Huffman on June 6, 1943. He could have simply put the decoration in the mail, Martinak acknowledged, but he wanted to see it through — and to meet the woman who, like her late husband, made a career out of service. “I wanted to make sure I did it right and it got done,” Martinak said. ”It’s a promise I made and it’s a promise I kept.” Huffman was killed Feb. 20, 1944, when German planes attacked his B-17 over Denmark. His belongings, including the Purple Heart, went to his young widow, who had become a second lieutenant while Huffman was overseas. Two years later, Betty, a nurse, was about to start a job in a hospital next to the Presidio in San Francisco. She was in the process of moving to an apartment in Oakland when the foot locker disappeared. The story might have ended there were it not for modern technology — and Martinak. Martinak makes it his mission to research the lives behind the names listed on the memorial wall at Timber-Linn Memorial Park. 8

It’s important, he said, for people to know who those people really were. “For me, it’s an obligation as a veteran who lost friends, not only when I was in service, in Vietnam, but since then, in other places,” he said. “It’s easy for us to walk out here and say, ‘Yeah, all these guys died in a war,’ but as time passes, these people fade from memory.” A few years ago, Martinak happened to pick Huffman from the World War II wall, for no particular reason other than that there were two Huffmans listed and he thought he might have a chance at finding information about at least one of them. Luckily, Billy Huffman was an airman, Martinak said. The Army tends to have more information on their service because it kept track of what happened to their aircraft, and thus recorded the fates of anyone lost when one was shot down. That’s what happened to Huffman. He was assigned to the 452nd Heavy Bombardment Group, part of the 8th Air Force, and to the 728th Bomb Squadron, which deployed to England. He was the pilot of The Mavoureen, which he named in honor of an Irish folk song, “Kathleen Mavourneen,” which Betty had taught him (accidentally leaving out the first “n”). On Feb. 20, 1944, with Huffman as pilot, The Mavoureen headed out on a bombing mission to Poland and Germany. Witnesses later reported The Mavoureen took a hit to its No. 1 engine, with a 20 mm cannon blasting a hole about 2 feet by 3 feet on the leading edge of the wing. Huffman’s crew bailed out, parachuting into the sea. Two were captured. The other seven died. Huffman stayed with The Mavoureen,

which crashed north of Fuglebjerg, on Seeland Island roughly 90 kilometers southwest of Copenhagen. German records indicate Huffman’s body was found near the plane and buried in the Danish cemetery of Svino By. Martinak was able to obtain Huffman’s file from deceased personnel material on downed aircraft that had been donated to a museum. That led him to information about Huffman’s family, and the family’s struggle to have his remains brought home to Oregon. Betty had remarried by that time, but the military still wanted her to sign off on the family’s request. She did so, and that’s how Martinak found out her new name: Rosevear. He contacted Rosevear, who gladly filled in the holes in Huffman’s biography. And he made her a promise about her husband’s lost Purple Heart: “I told her I would do everything I could to get that replaced.” The project took several more months and went through several hands before coming to fruition. Mitch Sparks, now acting director for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, was the one to oversee the last portion, making sure the medal was mounted and framed before emailing Martinak to come pick it up. In San Diego, Rosevear belongs to the Rancho Peñasquitos Post 11388 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. So Martinak contacted the post’s commander and quartermaster and talked to Betty’s daughter, Paula, to make sure an appropriate ceremony could be arranged. “It means something to the families if you can point out the fact that the sacrifices those guys made are remembered,” he said. “It brings a humanness to a memorial that otherwise is just brick and stone.”

By Matt Debow, Lebanon Express Reprinted with permission.

in the community

Veterans’ Home resident Herb Buller gets a kiss from a horse named Cheyenne during a visit by the Reigning Riders 4-H of Tangent. (DemocratHerald photo by Amanda Loman)

Ho, Ho... Horse?


hile a chilly downpour took place outside, a dog, a mini-horse and a pony helped spread warm Christmas cheer inside the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon on a Tuesday afternoon in late December. The visit was part of the Linn County 4-H Club’s service learning project. Members had sewn stockings, raised money for gifts to fill them, and then delivered them to all 146 residents at the home. “After the kids all sewed the stockings, the kids all came together to help stuff the stockings and get the gifts ready,” said Andrea Leao, Linn County 4-H outreach coordinator. “This is the last part, delivering the gifts, and actually seeing the veterans.” The Reigning Riders 4-H of Tangent brought some of their horses along with them as part of the stocking delivery visit. Leao said making that trip was an important part of the project. “Being part of 4-H is getting them closer to communities,” she said.

Four-Legged Friends visit veterans’ HomE

This is the second time the group has visited the veterans. With clearer weather last year, the group performed Christmas carols outside and on horseback. “We had to change that a little bit this year, and go inside to say, ‘Merry Christmas,’“ Leao said. While there wasn’t any horseback caroling, several veterans’ home residents braved the wet weather outside to greet the full-size horses that couldn’t make it inside. Bess Broce, assistant recreation director of the veterans home, said she was contacted by the 4-H about bringing the animals over. “The veterans love animal therapy of any kind,” Broce said. So she quickly agreed. Roy Larson, a veterans home resident, was quite surprised by the mini-horse visiting his room. “Oh, boy, isn’t that something — that’s a horse,” he said. 9

IN the Community

By Tyler Francke, Oregon Veterans News Magazine

‘Family First’ First female national commander of the American legion visits Oregon Above: Denise Rohan embraces WWII veteran and resident Bill Wingett at the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon. 10


hen U.S. Army veteran Denise Rohan first tried to join The American Legion with her husband, also a veteran, the response was something she has never forgotten: “Women join the Auxiliary.” Now the national commander of the country’s largest wartime veterans service organization (and the first woman to ever hold that position), her photo hangs on a wall of the Post that declined her membership 37 years ago. Underneath the photo of the national commander is a sign that reads: “She could have been a member of our Post. Remember, women are veterans too!” In January, Rohan brought her message of inclusiveness and mutual love and support — which she sums up in a two-word motto: “Family First” — to Oregon, visiting the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, along with several Legion posts, and meeting with Gov. Kate Brown and other state and veteran community leaders in Salem. In a gathering at the State Capitol Building with Gov. Brown and her staff, dignitaries from The American Legion and representatives from the Oregon National Guard and Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Rohan described her theme as being based on the idea that strong communities have the power to bring hope and healing to those in need. “I truly believe that if we get our veterans connected with the Legion, with new battle buddies, we can eliminate a lot of the suicides and homelessness,” she said. She also spoke admiringly of Oregon’s long history of supporting its veterans, including the passage of Measure 96 in 2016, which was approved by a historic 84 percent of voters. “You can tell the state of Oregon cares about its veterans,” she said.

By Tyler Francke, Oregon Veterans News Magazine

IN THE Community

‘We Can Grow It!’ With 12 gardens across the state, Oregon is taking lead in the effort to honor the women who helped ensure victory during World War II, and to inspire ‘a new generation of Rosies.’ Photo courtesy Willamalane Park and Recreation.

Oregon’s 12 rosie gardens In March, Oregon became the first state to plant Rosie the Riveter Memorial Gardens in all five of its congressional districts. Here’s where you can find them:

District 1: Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, 500 N.E. Captain Michael King Smith Way, McMinnville. District 2: Ericksen Aircraft Collection, 2408 N.W. Berg Drive, Madras; Aspen Ridge Retirement Community, 1010 N.E. Purcell Blvd., Bend; Touchmark at Mount Bachelor Village, 19800 S.W. Touchmark Way, Bend; Whispering Winds, 2920 N.E. Conners Ave., Bend; Bend Heroes Memorial at Brooks Park, 35 N.W. Drake Road, Bend. District 3: International Rose Test Garden, 400 S.W. Kingston Ave., Portland; Peninsula Park, 700 N. Rosa Parks Way, Portland; Pittock Mansion, 3229 NW Pittock Drive, Portland. District 4: Oregon Women Veterans Memorial at the Veterans Memorial Plaza, 998 Mohawk Blvd., Springfield. District 5: Oregon Garden, 879 W. Main St., Silverton; Oregon World War II Memorial, intersection of Court and Cottage streets northeast, Salem.


veryone knows Rosie the Riveter. The flexing, confident female factory worker has become a symbol of positive attitude and self-empowerment and remains one of the most iconic images from the World War II era. The image, of course, also underscores the pivotal role women played in the war effort on the home front, and yet, the country has only a handful of physical memorials that honor that legacy. In an effort to ensure the contributions of our nation’s “Rosies” are not forgotten, the Spirit of ’45 collaborative has since 2017 sought to create a living memorial in the form of a national network of Rosie the Riveter Memorial Rose Gardens. And, on March 21, Rosie the Riveter Day, Oregon’s own Spirit of ’45 group took the initiative in coordinating the planting and dedication of 12 Rosie Gardens — with at least one in each of the state’s five congressional districts. Since the nationwide Spirit of ’45 has the goal of planting at least one garden in each of the country’s congressional districts by 2020 (the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII), that means Oregon is ahead of the game. Barbara Jensen, founder/president of Oregon Spirit of ’45, Inc., said the gardens were also planted in March so they would be at peak bloom in time for Spirit of ’45 Day, which is observed on the second Sunday of August. Oregon’s Rosie the Riveter Gardens are of varying sizes, but the largest — appropriately enough — is the 11 bushes that line the wall of the Oregon World War II Memorial on the grounds of the State Capitol in Salem. “We want to make sure that the contributions of women of our Greatest Generation — all who answered the call on the Home Front and those who served in uniform during WWII — are fully honored and officially acknowledged,” Jensen said. She also said her organization would once again be representing Oregon at the Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C. In special recognition of the state’s newly established network of Rosie the Riveter Memorial Gardens, the Oregon Spirit of ’45 will be represented by Ada Wyn Parker-Loy. A real-life “Rosie,” now 94 years old and a resident of The Dalles, ParkerLoy was one of the first women mechanics hired at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, Calif. Her older sister, Naomi Parker-Fraley, also worked there and is believed by some to have been the actual inspiration for Rosie the Riveter. For more information about Oregon Spirit of ’45, and how you can help honor and remember the Greatest Generation, visit 11

Linda Campbell served more than 20 years in the U.S. Air Force and Oregon Air National Guard, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1994.


By Eder Campuzano, The Oregonian/OregonLive Reprinted with permission.

featureD veteraN

‘She Was a Diamond’

a t d O f s

V t d b I o T d t

Lt. Col. Linda Campbell served a full career in the Air Force, becoming Oregon’s first female combat weapons controller and a military adviser to Gov. Vic Atiyeh. After retirement, she began a new battle: for the right to be buried next to the love of her life.


t’s been five years since retired Air Force Lt. Col. Linda Campbell buried the ashes of her wife, Nancy Lynchild, at Willamette National Cemetery just southeast of Portland. It was just after the military dropped the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibited its gay, lesbian and bisexual members from serving openly, but before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right. And it was the first time a U.S. veteran had secured a burial plot for her same-sex spouse at a military cemetery. Soon, Linda will join Lynchild in the plot she lobbied the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to grant her partner of 22 years. The Air Force veteran died March 2, 2018. She was 71. Linda Campbell was born in Fargo, North Dakota in 1946 to Joyce and Gordon Campbell and grew up in Portland, where she attended Kellogg Grade School and, later, Marshall High School. It was during high school that Linda knew she was gay, she told historian Pat Young in a 2013 interview. Linda felt it was something she couldn’t share with her best friend, a female Marshall classmate named Loen she’d known since first grade. “I couldn’t talk to her. I couldn’t tell her who I was. I couldn’t share,” Linda told Young. The two set off for the University of Oregon upon graduating from their Portland high school in 1964. Linda said she never caught sight of Loen during her undergraduate years. But the two caught up when, at the age of 60, Linda called up her old best friend to catch up. It was then, more than four decades after their high school graduation, that Linda came out to Loen. The two bonded over their shared isolation. Loen was Japanese-American, so boys wouldn’t ask her out, she said. Linda was gay and held it close to the chest.

“She was excluded. And I was excluded. And here we are walking to school together, neither one of us telling the other things that really mattered,” Linda said, recalling their school days in Portland together. That sense of exclusion lasted through Linda’s years at the University of Oregon, where she graduated in 1968 with a degree in sociology. She immediately enlisted in the Air Force on the advice of a “really good recruiter,” she told Young. “I’d never seen a woman in uniform and I thought that would be very interesting,” she said. Linda enlisted in the military, in part, to “get over it.” “I wanted to get a master’s degree. I thought that would help me find good work. I thought, okay, I’d get the GI Bill,” she said. “And I wanted to, you know, at this point in life it’s kind of . . . you want to be straight. It’s really hard to be straight. If a boy asks you out it’s really hard to say yes, you know, when you could be with your friends. So, I thought, I’m never going to go out with a boy if I’m around my friends, so I need to force myself to be away from them.” She never got over it. In 1972, Linda visited her parents to tell them she was dating a woman. Her father verbally disowned her. Her mother, Linda told The Oregonian’s Mike Francis, said, “I just wish you hadn’t told us.” It was around then, after four years with the Air Force, that Linda returned to Portland and joined the Oregon Air National Guard, from which she would retire as a lieutenant colonel in 1994. She met Col. Fred Rosenbaum, one of the first people to whom she’d come out. The two would become close friends. He was the chairman of the Housing Authority of Portland, then the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, both agencies where Linda would also work.

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Featured Veteran

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It was during her time at HUD that Linda met Nancy Jean Lynchild, who was the director of housing programs for the Lane County Housing Authority. Linda travelled to Eugene for audits and the two would get together during those visits. Linda Campbell and Nancy Lynchild were domestically partnered twice in Oregon before they were legally wed in Vancouver, B.C. in 2010. But the women had considered themselves married since 1995, when they packed up the car and moved to Washington, D.C. so Linda could work at HUD headquarters. “We had the kind of marriage that people dream of — young people, old people, gay people and straight people,” Linda had told her family. “We shared hopes and dreams and health care struggles — until death did us part.” In 2000, Linda and Lynchild returned to Oregon to be closer to her parents. By then, Gordon and Joyce Campbell had accepted their daughter and embraced her sexual orientation, even professing their own love for Lynchild and Linda’s previous partner. Joyce Campbell’s death in 2004 shook the family. Linda described her father as devastated when the two of them visited a funeral home to discuss cremation. “The light was gone from his eyes,” she said. But it was then that the Campbells learned Linda’s mother was eligible to have her ashes buried in Willamette National Cemetery. “It changed Dad so much,” Linda told The Oregonian. Gordon Campbell’s ashes would join his wife’s when he died in 2009. And although her parents were now resting together, Linda was pained in knowing she and Lynchild couldn’t have the same honor. On Dec. 22, 2012, Nancy Lynchild died of breast cancer. In the years leading up to her wife’s death, Linda worked with Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and Sen. Jeff Merkley to ensure Lynchild’s ashes would be buried in the Campbell family plot. “Linda was a subtle yet giant force that moved our world forward,” Avakian said in a release. “But more, I have never known a person with greater capacity to love others, . and be loved in return.. .Among all the gems we collect in life, our friends and experience, she was a diamond.” They wrote letters to the VA, arguing the agency should follow the spirit of the Department of Defense’s recent dismissal of 14

Linda Campbell, left, with her wife and longtime partner, Nancy Lynchild. When Nancy died of breast cancer in 2012, Linda successfully fought to become the first veteran in U.S. history to secure a burial plot for a same-sex spouse at a military cemetery.

its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The response was tepid at the time, the three would tell The Oregonian. But things changed soon after Lynchild passed away. First came the waiver for the burial plot. Then, the VA afforded Campbell’s relationship further recognition: The headstone she and her partner will now share included the word “spouse” to describe Lynchild. “Our nation will know and everyone who passes by here will know, that we lovingly, proudly and legally were wed, and that we have

earned the right to be here in this hallowed space,” Linda had said of the headstone. Linda Campbell and Nancy Lynchild will rest two markers away from Gordon and Joyce Campbell at Willamette National Cemetery. Linda was survived by brothers, Bob and Jim Campbell; sisters-in-law Monte and Carolyn Campbell; and Brady Evan Waldroff and Oliver Mena-Rangel, “family raised as sons.” Editor’s note: Linda Campbell was laid to rest at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland on April 23.

By Dick Mason, The La Grande Observer Reprinted with permission.

As You Were

‘I Never Felt Safe Again’ veteran recalls tet offensive on 50th anniversary of infamous vietnam campaign


he first seven months of Allan Sather’s tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967-68 were different than he anticipated. Much different. Sather, who now lives in La Grande, was based in the South Vietnam city of Can Tho on the Mekong River in a combat zone where he was serving as a personnel specialist in the U.S. Army. It was a surprisingly peaceful time for Sather. “There were no problems. We joked that we were receiving combat pay (without actual combat),” Sather said. “There were lots of sights to see.” Sather often went into Can Tho, then a city of at least 10,000 people, and took in the culture of South Vietnam. “We went all over town. It was almost like we were tourists,” he said. There were a few enemy attacks on Can Tho, but they were minor. “We rarely felt in danger,” Sather said. The sense of security vanished on Feb. 2, 1968, when the North Vietnamese launched a surprise attack on Sather’s base, where several hundred American soldiers were stationed. Countless rockets and mortars were fired at the base that day and night, killing five soldiers. Sather did not know it at the time, but the attack was part of the beginning of the Tet Offensive, in which the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong increased their attacks on at least 100 towns in South Vietnam. The atmosphere at Sather’s base was drastically altered in an instant. “It was a complete change,” he said. “Suddenly we felt like we were in a war zone.” The Tet Offensive is generally considered to have ended Feb. 25, 1968, but Sather said that attacks continued on Can Tho and the Army base there through at least June when his tour of duty in Vietnam ended. After Feb. 25, the rocket and mortar attacks “tapered off a little but not that much,” Sather said. “I never felt safe again.” Nighttime was particularly harsh, when “mortars and rockets would sometimes be fired all night long,” he recalled. He said you couldn’t hear mortars coming,

U.S. service members rest alongside a broken wall in the city of Hue during the Tet Offensive. Launched in a series of surprise attacks beginning Jan. 30, 1968, it is viewed as one of the war’s largest and bloodiest episodes. (Creative Commons photo)

but the rockets were easy to hear. “They made a swishing sound and then there was an explosion,” Sather said. The evenings were terrifying and the days were not much better, for attacks were periodically made by the North Vietnamese against the base in broad daylight. Needless to say, Sather’s visits to Can Tho quickly became a thing of the past. “You didn’t feel safe in town,” Sather said. Sather said that when rocket and mortar attacks occurred, they would often run to sandbag bunkers covered with steel plates. “It would have been difficult for anything to penetrate them,” said Sather, a draftee who grew up in northern California and was in the Army four years. The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong timed their attacks when the Americans were the most vulnerable. For example, they often fired at midday when the soldiers were eating lunch. “They knew our schedule,” Sather said.

The North Vietnamese also likely knew that there was a good chance their rockets and mortars would hit the helicopters that were constantly leaving and landing. The helicopter traffic “was 24-7, all day and all night,” Sather said. Regardless of what was happening around him, Sather found time almost every day to write a letter to his wife, Judith, in the United States. His letters focused on family matters rather than the dangers he faced in Can Tho. He wrote more than 300 letters from Can Tho, all of which his wife saved. Allan Sather sometimes looks back upon his letters and is struck by how little he wrote about what was going on in Vietnam. Allan and Judith Sather moved to La Grande four years ago. Allan, who was not injured in Vietnam, said his memories of the attacks sometimes come rushing back to him when he hears firecrackers. “I get a little more on edge on July 4,” he said. “I want to jump under my seat.” 15

On the Job Education benefits: Not just for the classroom anymore


ike many young people, Elijah Carillo did not graduate high school knowing exactly what he wanted to do. In fact, he knew only one thing for certain. “I knew I wanted to make a difference with my life,” he said. His mother suggested he look into the criminal justice field, and before long, he enrolled in the program at Western Oregon University. “Once I started to take classes, I was totally hooked,” he said. “I could see myself in this career for the rest of my life.” As Carillo’s college education began the traditional shift from the routine of books and classes to the practical expectations of work in a career and life after school, one of his professors broached the subject of how he might bolster his resume. The job market for law enforcement professionals was becoming increasingly crowded, this professor explained, and he suggested Carillo should pursue an internship or military service to stand out from the crowd.


By Tyler Francke, Oregon Veterans News Magazine

featureD Veteran Benefit

Marine Reserve Elijah Carillo stands at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in Salem, where he is in training as an officer for the McMinnville Police Department.


Featured Veteran Benefit

Continued from previous page

ARE you missing out on your benefits? You may think your veteran education benefits can be applied only toward a traditional degree program at a university or community college, this is not the case. The federal VA and its partners offer many opportunities for veterans to advance their careers and pursue their dream jobs without setting foot inside a classroom. The following is a list of educational and vocational opportunities that you may qualify for. To confirm your eligibility, or for more information, contact ODVA or your local veteran service office. On-The-Job Training and Apprenticeship VA on-the-job training and apprenticeships allow veterans to advance their employment prospects by learning a skill or trade. These programs typically involve entering into a training contract for a specific period of time with an employer or union. At the end of the training period, a job certification is issued or journeyman status achieved. Most veterans receive a salary from their employer or union during training. Montgomery GI Bill You may be eligible for Montgomery GI Bill benefits while you are on or after you separate from active duty. At a minimum, you must have a high school diploma or GED. To receive benefits after separating, you must have received an honorable discharge. You generally have 10 years from your last date of separation from active duty to use your MGIB-AD benefits. Post-9/11 GI Bill The Post-9/11 GI Bill pays a Monthly Housing Allowance based on the Department of Defense’s Basic Allowance for Housing for an E-5 with dependents, which is paid in addition to wages. The stipend is reduced 20 percent every six months, until it equals 20 percent of the Monthly Housing Allowance. The Post-9/11 GI Bill also pays up to $83 per month for books and supplies in a lump sum. 1606 Selected Reservist GI Bill You may be eligible for Selected Reservist benefits if you have a six-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve, complete your initial active duty for training, serve in a drilling unit and remain in good standing and obtain a high school diploma or equivalency. The Guard and Reserves decide if you are eligible, while the VA makes the payments for the program. Generally, your eligibility for these benefits ends on the day you leave the Selected Reserve. Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment This VA program is a program similar to on-the-job training, for veterans who have an employment handicap, meaning a serviceconnected disability that impairs his or her ability to obtain or maintain suitable employment. Under this program, a veteran may be hired at an apprenticeship wage, and the VA supplements his or her salary up to the level of the journeyman wage. The VA also pays for any necessary tools. Employers are eligible for a tax credit if they hire someone participating in a vocational rehab program. Survivors and Dependents’ Educational Assistance This program offers education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition or of veterans who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition. The program offers up to 45 months of education benefits, which may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship and on-the-job training. 18

He chose military, and joined the Marine Corps Reserve. “I had always wanted to claim the title of Marine, so I took the opportunity to fulfill my dream,” he said. He may have enlisted in the Reserve as opposed to active duty, but that distinction meant nothing to his drill instructors. “The training was difficult,” he recalled. “We weren’t treated any differently as reserves. I had all the same training as an active Marine.” Carillo delayed what would have been his senior year to pursue his dream of joining “The Few and The Proud.” He completed the grueling 13-week boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Calif., and went on to combat training and then Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) School, where he would graduate at the top of his class. After training, he came home and returned to school. He graduated in 2017 and was able to find work in his hometown as an officer for the McMinnville Police Department. “I truly believe my education, coupled with my military service, made me a much stronger candidate in the hiring pool,” Carillo said. When he started his training at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, he learned his remaining education benefits could be used in a way he hadn’t anticipated. “I was told by a co-worker that there was a possibility of receiving the GI Bill for my training time just a few days before my academy start date,” Carillo recalled. “I was very excited about the possibility.” Under the VA’s on-the-job training program, veterans are able to use their education benefits toward their training as a first responder. Training does not cost anything, of course, but while a veteran is undergoing training or on probationary status, their pay is typically only a fraction of what it would be as a fully sworn officer. The on-the-job program can help bridge that gap, by offering a monthly supplement of as much as $2,200 on top of the veteran’s base salary, while he or she is on probationary status. The stipend is tax-free and is reduced by 20 percent every six months, as the veteran progresses through training and his or her wages increase. The idea is to give veterans the opportunity to learn a skill or trade through on-the-job training and participation rather than attending formal classroom instruction. “Almost every registered apprenticeship program in Oregon provides strong incentives for veterans, including veterans preference and the ability for a returning service member to use his or her G.I. Bill benefits,” Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian said. “Bringing a veteran on as an apprentice means not only having an apprentice with higher than the average entry-level experience, but a work ethic worthy of the U.S. Armed Forces.” Employers are added to the program by application to the state approving agency, which in Oregon is the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). For more information about on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs in Oregon, please call 503-947-5727 or visit private/Pages/state-approving-agency-veterans.aspx. More information about the eligibility for and benefits of on-the-job training and apprenticeships in general may be found on the VA’s website at onthejob_apprenticeship.asp.

By Tyler Francke, Oregon Veterans News Magazine

featureD Service provider

Work in Progress disabled veteran employment reps Go the extra mile to help recently separated veterans transition smoothly to the civilian work force


orey Freeman works for the WorkSource Oregon Employment Department as a Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program specialist, more commonly known as a DVOP (usually pronounced “dee-vop”). But what he actually does, for the most part, is translation. “As I say, they ‘need to learn to speak English again,’” Freeman says of the recently discharged veteran job seekers with whom he often works. “That’s one of the main things we help with.” There is a special language unique to most branches of the armed forces, and it does not always translate neatly to the civilian world. Freeman, himself a former combat engineer with the U.S. Army and Oregon National Guard, understands this. “Everyone who served in the military has certain transferable skills, but they don’t always know how to put it in a way employers understand,” he said. “For example, I’ll ask someone, ‘What did you do in the military?’ and he’ll say, ‘I shot people.’ Well, you can’t put that on a resume unless you’re applying for a job in the Mafia.” On the other hand, the skills that virtually all veterans can put on a resume, include: experience working with a diverse population, the ability to complete tasks on a tight deadline and in a stressful environment, and experience communicating with all levels of an organization. These skills alone, if properly presented to a prospective employer, usually set an otherwise inexperienced veteran above any civilian applicant with similar education and experience. It’s not only the job seekers who often have to change their frames of reference. Freeman educates employers, too. “You hear about these 21, 22-year-olds who go into a job interview and say they were in charge of a $150 million piece of equipment and 18 people, and the guy says, ‘No way. That’s impossible. You’re only 20 years old,’” Freeman said. “And yet, that’s exactly what happened.” Freeman and the state’s other DVOPs

provide intensive services on an individualized basis. It may include work on their resume or interview skills, career guidance and counseling, and referrals to other agencies if the client is in need of other services (like food, shelter or health care). “DVOP” is fun to say, but perhaps the main reason the acronym is so commonly used is because the full name can be misleading. A veteran does not actually need to be disabled to use the services of a Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program specialist. The veteran must face some significant barrier to employment, but there are at least a dozen that qualify, only one of which is a service-connected disability. These include being homeless or at risk for homelessness, having a criminal background, or even being a VA-certified caregiver of a combat veteran. (See sidebar to this story for a complete list.) Or, you could simply be young. Any veteran age 18 to 24 can qualify. “A lot of times, people don’t think of that as a barrier to employment, but for several years, that age group was almost double the unemployment rate,” Freeman said. “Also, at that age, they’ve usually never had a civilian job outside the military, and that’s another challenge.” Freeman said his work — and that of the WorkSource Oregon’s network of 20-plus other DVOPs stationed throughout the state — is important, not only because of what it provides to the clients, but the state as a whole. The structure a stable job provides can sometimes be the linchpin for a veteran who might struggle with addiction, homelessness, criminal behavior or otherwise be in need of public assistance. And the impact on the individual can be transformative. “You wouldn’t believe what it does to a veteran’s confidence and sense of self-worth, when they come in and say, ‘I just got a job. I can take care of myself,’” he said. “It’s really incredible to see.” To find a veteran employment rep near you, please visit jobseekers/pages/contact-a-vet-rep.aspx.

do you qualifY? To qualify for the services of a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program specialist, a veteran must meet the definition of “veteran” set forth in Title 38 of the U.S. Code, and must have at least one of the following significant barriers to employment: •

VA service-connected disability rating, or pending claim

Medical discharge from the military

Homeless or at risk for homelessness

Between the ages of 18 and 24

Lack of high school diploma or equivalent

Low income

Recently separated from the military (within the last three years) and unemployed for 27 weeks (cumulative) within the past 12 months

Currently incarcerated or released from incarceration (criminal background)

Involuntarily separated from the military due to force reduction

VA-certified caregivers of veterans recovering from combat-related injuries

Recently separated from the military and deemed not meeting Career Readiness Standards by their commanders

Recovering from combatrelated injuries at either a military treatment facility or a warrior transition unit 19

Military caregiver Carol Snider is pictured with her husband, Randy, a Marine veteran, at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, where he now lives. Snider was recently selected to serve a two-year term as a Dole Caregiver Fellow, a prestigious role in in which she will serve as an advocate for and representative of military caregivers across the country. 20

By Kathie Dalton, Veterans News Magazine

The Battle Continues

Hidden Heroes You won’t find their names on any memorial, yet military caregivers often perform heroic acts of sacrifice in the lives of the veterans they love. Newly selected Dole Caregiver Fellow Carol Snider shares some of the joys and challenges in the life of a military caregiver.


t has been a long road, but Carol Snider is excited about the new role she has as a Dole Caregiver Fellow. Dole Caregiver Fellows are military caregivers, carefully selected each year from across to the country to represent the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, its Hidden Heroes campaign and caregivers as a whole. Each class consists of approximately 50 people, who come from different backgrounds but share similar stories of struggle and resilience. They care for scars that are both visible and invisible. For Snider, the role of caregiver is one she has taken on for over 45 years, and she is excited to be embarking on this new journey. “It validated that I wasn’t nuts,” she said with a laugh. “There was a time when I thought it was all my fault. It can’t be this hard. But it is. That was a big ‘Aha’ for me.” Snider’s husband, Randy was a Marine interpreter in Vietnam, and she speaks with about his service. “I knew him before he went in the service. He was really smart,” she said. “When he came home he was functioning very well.” Carol married Randy in 1970 despite his serious injuries from serving in Vietnam. Randy was a strong Marine. He was young and very bright. At that time, the only noticeable injury was the loss of his left eye. About four years into her marriage, Carol noticed signs that didn’t make sense to her. “We bounced around. It was a nightmare,” she said. “They even blocked me from going

to appointments with him. No one said, ‘Oh, you’re a caregiver.’” After reading an article in 1980 about a hospital in Portland that was doing new brain injury evaluations, Carol had Randy evaluated — at their own expense. He was in the Progressive Rehab Associates program for a full year. She worked with Sen. Ron Wyden for two years in efforts to get the evaluation paid for by the VA. It was then that Carol began to identify as a caregiver. She had few friends. “It left me in an odd spot.” she said. “Nobody really gets it unless they’ve lived it. Being a caregiver is very isolating.” After many years of Carol’s advocacy at the VA, Randy was diagnosed with cognitive deficits from a traumatic brain injury. The next years were the worst for Carol. Randy was 100 percent service-connected and unemployable. They had two girls, and she had to play the role of both parents, running the house and in charge of three other lives. “After fifteen years, I hit a wall,” she said. “After two emotional episodes, I realized I needed to put myself first. I had PTSD from dealing with this constant fight.” Carol had no interest in a divorce, so she purchased a duplex and installed Randy in one side, with her and her daughters on the other side. She was finally able to breathe. Randy had caregivers, and at age 50, Carol was able to earn her master’s in counseling and open a private practice. Randy now lives in the Edward C.

Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, which opened in 2014. Being selected as a fellow is “kind of a swan song,” she said. “We are both 70 years old. I feel like this is a good wrap-up to what I’ve been doing for 45 years. Randy thinks it is wonderful. He is happy to tell everyone about me.” Never one to shy away from big projects, Snider is using her new position to develop a guide on transferring your loved one from home care to a nursing home. She hopes the Dole Foundation will eventually use the guide for webinars and training. “I want to be that person that caregivers can count on to listen and help when possible,” she said. “I hope to encourage caregivers to practice self-care and take time for themselves. And finally, I hope to help other caregivers with navigating the system to get the help that they might need and improve state and national laws to benefit caregivers and veterans.” In addition to her work with the foundation, Snider is excited about opportunities for travel and special projects. She frequently makes presentations to various brain injury groups and is the co-chair of the Family Council at the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon. For more information about and resources for military caregivers, please visit ODVA’s website at Pages/Caregivers.aspx, and the Dole Foundation’s 21

Dave Foster, right, sits in the seat he occupied during the Vietnam War in a restored Huey helicopter. Geoff Carr, left, started the nonprofit EMU, INC., 13 years ago, with the mission to help veterans of all wars find healing and emotional support through helicopter rides.


By Trisha Walker, Hood River News Reprinted with permission.


Healing Skies


or Parkdale’s Dave Foster, healing began with an unexpected email. and public displays; and to offer emotional support to combat veterans “Dear Dave,” the email began. “My name is Geoff Carr. I was with PTSD of all eras (see also at the Binh Dai incident, starting with our assignment to fill Carr has helped bankroll the $1.5 million project with half a million a spot in the flight with you guys before Mr. Crouch was killed ... of his own money, and relies on donations to pay for flights. It’s the only I was immediately next to your aircraft when Mr. Crouch was killed. Huey restored to Vietnam condition, Foster explained, and is a flying As we were all firing into the tree line, I had a very good view of you “museum,” giving veterans the opportunity to relive — and heal from — moving forward to remove him from the controls. I thought at the the memories it dredges up. moment that it was a difficult thing for you to do under fire and my Foster and his family went to California in October — and spent 11 opinion about that has not changed.” hours with Carr and fellow pilot Andy Perry, of Australia, who was also Foster had spent 25 months in Vietnam — he enlisted in the Army at Binh Dai. In all, Foster took four rides in the EMU 309, staying in the at age 18 — and served two tours there, from 1969-1970 and 1971-1972, left seat he had occupied during the war. first as door gunner, and, later, crew chief. “It was really something to sit there again,” he said, noting he now He didn’t know anyone had seen his actions on May 18, 1970, seven has a new date to mark. months into his first tour. He had never talked about it, though the But it was equally healing to meet Carr and Perry. Carr’s children experience continued to haunt him. had grown up with the story of that battle, even though they didn’t “All these years — almost 48 years — I’ve kept that to myself,” Foster know who Foster was at that time. said. “Never told the kids about it. My wife barely knew about it. (But) “To be part of a story that has been told for all these years … and he my Vietnam experience is centered on that day.” just happened to have a restored Huey! What are the chances?” Foster In short, B Troop 7/1 Air said. “If it wasn’t for the internet, Calvary’s scouts had picked up a we wouldn’t have met.” North Vietnamese Army battalion The validation was a turning who “had taken advantage of our point. invasion into Cambodia” to attempt “It made it important,” Foster the capture of the province of Binh said. “Someone cared about what Dai, and the decision was made to I did. It was such a healing thing. send in ground troops, he said. I’ve never been to a Memorial Day “We flew in, kicked out the or Veterans Day event. I can’t do it. troops, and headed out for another I can never go to the Wall. Dave Foster, Vietnam veteran load,” he said. “This (helicopter) is something Taking off again after the third that brings all vets together. It’s landing of the day, his pilot, Albert Crouch, was hit under heavy fire. done so much for me.” Crouch would later die from his wounds. Sitting in that seat, Foster felt at home — and after the visit, his Foster removed Crouch’s body from the controls while another pilot family immediately noticed the effects. His daughter, Shannon Foster, regained control of the aircraft. They flew Crouch to a field hospital in said her previously silent father began to pour out stories she had never Tan An, then flew back, with newspaper covering Crouch’s seat, to the heard before, of his childhood and the war. base at Vinh Long. “The pilot left. Sheet metal shop showed up and put Now, Foster would like other veterans to know about Carr’s restored a patch on the hole in the windshield,” Foster said. “My gunner and I helicopter and its therapeutic flights. washed away the day’s mess, (and) I did any maintenance necessary.” “I think that any veteran would benefit from an experience like He got up “and went flying the next day with a patch on the this,” he said. “A veteran’s family would love to have them back. My wife windshield, reminding me every day for the next five months.” (Katie) convinced me I had to go and meet them. I was more afraid of Foster’s heroic actions would earn him the Distinguished Flying meeting them than I ever was in Vietnam. But it’s the best thing she Cross, but the episode is also largely to blame for his being 100 percent ever made me do. disabled with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). It’s affected his “This helicopter will continue to save lives as long as we can keep family — he wasn’t always available, and he doesn’t socialize. But this funded,” he added, noting it costs $3,000 an hour to fly and that realizing that someone had witnessed it all was a step towards healing. donations are tax-deductible because the organization is a nonprofit. As was the gift Carr offered at the end of his email: He also encourages veterans of all ages to seek free help by visiting a “Some other Vietnam veterans and I own and operate an airworthy county veteran service office, or the local American Legion post. UH-1H we restored to Vietnam-era livery through a nonprofit “Don’t wait,” he said. “If you’re having problems now, it just won’t go corporation I set up about 13 years ago. We keep it at the Hayward away.” Executive Airport in Hayward, Calif. I don’t know where you live, but if Editor’s note: Dave Foster died peacefully in his home on Dec. 16, you ever get out this way, we would be proud to have you fly with us.” 2017, only eight days after this story was originally published in the Hood Carr’s nonprofit — EMU, INC. — seeks to preserve the history River News. His obituary began with these words: “Although he lived with of the Huey helicopter and the men who served in assault helicopter many health issues, he had been feeling fantastic the last several months. companies in Vietnam; to make aircraft available to museums, air shows He always had a smile and positive attitude.” He was 66.

This is something that brings all vets together. It’s done so much for me.



Around the nation Native American veterans will be honored with memorial on National Mall

Jan. 14, 2018 — Finalists have presented their designs for the National Native American Veterans Memorial; a winner will be selected on July 4. The memorial is slated to open on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington in 2020. See the final entries here: Inspiration for Rosie the Riveter dies at 96

Jan. 22, 2018 — Naomi Parker-Fraley, identified by a scholar as the inspiration for Rosie the Riveter, passed away at the age of 96 in Washington state. Born in Tulsa, Okla., Fraley was one of the first women to work at the Naval Station in Alameda following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Young man made it his mission to interview WWII veterans

Feb. 23, 2018 — Rishi Sharma has always been into superheroes – the real kind. That’s why, as a junior in high school, he made it his mission to meet as many World War II combat veterans as possible. Sharma has interviewed more than 210 combat vets. These interviews can be seen at The Home Depot Foundation Commits $50 million to skilled trades training

March 8, 2018 — The Home Depot Foundation has announced a $50 million commitment to train 20,000 tradespeople over the next 10 years in order to fill the growing skilled labor gap. In 2017, The Home Depot Foundation launched a pilot trades training program for separating military members in partnership with nonprofit Home Builders Institute on Fort Stewart and Fort Bragg. The program, which has a job placement rate of more than 90 percent, will now roll out on additional bases across the United States. Veterans’ home adult day services bill signed into law

March 27, 2018 — This bill directs the federal VA to enter into an agreement or a contract with each state home to pay for adult day health care for a veteran for whom the home is not receiving VA nursing home care payments. The veteran must need such care specifically for a service-connected disability, or must have a service-connected disability rating of 70 percent or more. Shulkin dismissed as VA secretary

March 28, 2018 — On March 28, President Donald Trump dismissed David Shulkin from his position as the U.S. secretary of veterans affairs. He had served as head of the federal VA since 2015. Ronny Jackson was nominated to succeed him, pending Senate confirmation, with Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel 24

World War II veteran Curtis Tigard turned 109 on April 13. He is a lifetime resident of Tigard and the state’s oldest known living veteran.

and Readiness Robert Wilkie serving as acting director in the interim. Court ruling could extend disability benefits to thousands of injured veterans

March 8, 2018 — In a sweeping legal victory for veterans, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned a 19-year lower court precedent used in more than 11,000 VA claims denials that stated veterans had to have a clear medical diagnosis connected to their pain in order to be eligible for those disability payouts. Advocates said the ruling could be life-changing for individuals who are unable to work because of service-connected injuries but excluded from veterans assistance because of medical technicalities. 15 years later, Wounded Warrior Project still adding new members

March 8, 2018 — Fifteen years after it was founded, seven years after official U.S. combat operations ended in Iraq and three years after their end in Afghanistan, Wounded Warrior Project is still seeing a surge in new members. The charity, which celebrates its founding anniversary this month, now boasts more than 111,000 veterans and troops as program members. This fiscal year alone, the group has averaged more than 1,200 new registrations a month, even as the major troop surges in Iraq and Afghanistan slide further into the past.

Close to Home Oregon Medal of Honor Highway dedicated

Oct. 30, 2017 — U.S. 20 has been designated the Oregon Medal of Honor Highway thanks to the work of the Bend Heroes Foundation.

Running from Newport to Nyssa, it honors every Medal of Honor recipient associated with Oregon. Elks lodges donate tablets to Lebanon veterans’ home

Oct. 30, 2017 — The Salem Elks Lodge, Keizer Elks Lodge and Elks National Foundation donated 20 Android tablets to the Edward C. Allworth Veterans Home in Lebanon. The tablets will allow resident veterans to access telehealth services from the VA and communicate with relatives and friends. OCHS approves vets housing projects approved in four counties

Feb. 16, 2018 — Oregon Housing and Community Services has announced the award of $8.9 million to fund the development of 71 new affordable homes for Oregon veterans. These awards will bring housing stability to formerly homeless veterans and their families through developments planned in North Bend, Klamath Falls, Oregon City and northeast Portland. Oregon veteran turns 109

April 13, 2018 — Curtis Tigard, a lifetime Oregonian and World War II veteran, turned 109 on April 13. He is the oldest known living veteran in the state. He served in the U.S. Army for six years, including the entirety of WWII, participating in invasions in north Africa and Italy. He celebrated the occasion with friends and well-wishers during two celebrations, one at the historic John Tigard House (named for his uncle) and at Royal Villas, the Tigard retirement community he has lived in since the 1970s.

By James Sinks, Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations Oregon State Treasury

Guest Contribution

Pfc. Willard Nanegos

It seems as if I was killed 10,000 times. I’ve been in that many tight places and thought I’d never live through them.

Guarding Valor


tate Treasurer Tobias Read stood on a windswept hillside near Pendleton. He glanced at his hand, and smiled. He was holding precious cargo. Read had traveled from the State Capitol for the Flag Day ceremony at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, bringing with him the military medal of decorated World War II veteran Willard Nanegos, who died in 1967. “I hope having this symbol of gratitude returned to your family will ensure that his story will be told for future generations,” Read said before he handed the medal to Nanegos’ youngest daughter, Leona White, and two of his grandchildren. “Your father’s sacrifice and service to this country will not be forgotten,” he said. For the Bronze Star, the journey home started with a question — and some luck. Two months before the ceremony, the medal was unclaimed, forgotten. In Oregon, when the rightful owner cannot be found for assets or the contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes, the property is turned over to the Department of State Lands. Until the owner can be found, the money is invested in the state’s Common School Fund to benefit K-12 schools. And if the unclaimed property is an item like jewelry or trading cards or medals, those are periodically sold at auction — and the proceeds are invested. The owner or descendants can claim the financial value, but the item itself will be sold. Shortly after being sworn in as state treasurer, Read asked about the unclaimed

property program — and in particular, whether it held any veterans’ commendations. The state treasurer is one of three members of the State Land Board, which oversees the Department of State Lands, where the Unclaimed Property Program is located. Read was concerned that military medals could be sold, and was considering asking for legislation that would forbid the sale of medals or other military regalia by the Unclaimed Property office, though it is their practice to hold onto items of sentimental value. That’s when he learned about the unclaimed Bronze Star, which had not been auctioned. His staff went to work. Reading a faded newspaper clipping that was in the same safe deposit box with the medal, they marveled at the story of a Native American hero. And they traced his family back to the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. Nanegos was a member of a Michigan tribe and came to the Pacific Northwest prior to World War II to work on the Grand Coulee Dam. He joined the Army the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Private Nanegos served in the 168th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, zigzagging across the European Theater in eight campaigns, from North Africa to Italy to France. One of those battles was the Battle of Anzio. On the first day, the 3rd Infantry lost 955 soldiers, the highest single day loss in World War II for any U.S. division. In the news clipping accompanying the Bronze Star,

Nanegos said of that battle: “It seems as if I was killed 10,000 times. I’ve been in that many tight places and thought I’d never live through them.” The morning of the surprise presentation at the Flag Day ceremony, Read picked up the medal in Salem and headed east. It was time for the Bronze Star to go home. This spring, the Legislature passed House Bill 4038. A provision in that bill, included on behalf of the treasurer, says Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program may not auction off military medals or decorations. They will be held in perpetuity for the rightful owners or their descendants. In March, according to the Department of State Lands, the vault had three military medals. For now, they are unclaimed, forgotten. But no longer at risk of disappearing. Do you have unclaimed property? Every year, more than $50 million in unclaimed property is forwarded to the state. Much of it comes from uncashed checks, abandoned bank accounts and various refunds, but some is from abandoned safe deposit boxes. It is free to search the database and claim your assets. You can search for your unclaimed property online at Treasury or directly at upweb/up/UP_landing.asp.

Above: This Bronze Star, which had belonged to WWII hero Willard Nanegos, languished for decades in the state’s Unclaimed Property Program. Last year, State Treasurer Tobias Read located Nanegos’s surviving family and returned it to them. (Photo by Steve Duin, The Oregonian/OregonLive. Reprinted with permission.) 25

BEnefits Corner

2018 Legislative Session in Review

Jana Waller and Jim Kinsey, of “Skull Bound TV,” and former Navy SEAL Bo Reichenbach scan for game during a hunting trip they organized for the double amputee. A bill passed by the Oregon Legislature during the last session will make it easier for nonprofits to organize hunting and fishing opportunities for disabled veterans and Purple Heart recipients. (File photo)


he 2018 Legislative Session was a short one, but that didn’t stop it from seeing the passage of a number of important bills intended to benefit Oregon veterans and their families. The following summary highlights the key aspects of these measures. Senate Bill 1506: Oregon Wounded Warrior Parking Program. This bill creates the “Oregon Wounded Warrior” parking designation for veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 50 percent or greater. Veterans must also have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions to qualify. Those who receive this designation will be able to enjoy free and unlimited parking in any time-limited or metered spaces in the state, without penalty. This program, which is being administered by the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles, is now active. Interested veterans should contact their local DMV office and be prepared to show proof of disability and discharge status. SB 1517: Free Hunting Tags for Disabled Veteran Organizations. The Department of Fish and Wildlife currently operates a program to provide terminally ill children with hunting and fishing opportunities, at no charge, by issuing a certain number of free tags to nonprofit entities that organize and sponsor such adventures. SB 1517 expands this program by incorporating disabled veterans and Purple Heart 26

recipents into the existing program. A maximum of 35 tags will be made available to each year for both terminally ill children and veterans, with the former receiving precedence but being capped at 15. The measure also limits eligible veteran beneficiaries to one tag per year. SB 1548: Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness. This bill establishes June as Oregon Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Month and June 27 as Oregon Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day. The measure directs the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and Oregon Military Department to continue working on educating victims of trauma about the causes, symptoms and treatment of post-traumatic stress injury. House Bill 4035: Tuition Assistance for Oregon National Guard Members. This bill establishes a program to provide tuition assistance for eligible members of the Oregon National Guard, provided they attend an Oregon community college or public university and are working toward an associate or bachelor’s degree. The expectation is that the eligible Guard member will not have to pay for any tuition when factoring in other federal and state assistance and the tuition assistance payments under the program. $2.7 million in General Funds are appropriated under the bill for tuition assistance payments and for program administration costs.

benefits Benefits corner Corner

HB 4038: Veterans Omnibus Bill. HB 4038 addresses a number of issues of concern to veterans: the siting of the Roseburg Veterans’ Home, cemeteries for veterans, incarcerated veterans, the disposition of unclaimed military medals and veterans’ preference for public employment. Roseburg Veterans’ Home: There are two Veterans’ Homes in Oregon, in The Dalles and Lebanon, and a third pending development in Roseburg, for which the state has appropriated $10 million. HB 4038 directs the ODVA to study the siting of the next Veterans’ Home in Roseburg. State veterans’ cemeteries: Oregon has been identified by the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs as having elevated priority for the development of a state veterans’ cemetery. HB 4038 directs ODVA to study the siting of state veterans’ cemeteries and tribal veterans’ cemeteries. Incarcerated veterans: In 2015, a task force convened pursuant to House Bill 2838 to study the needs of incarcerated veterans and make recommendations to the Legislature. Consistent with those recommendations, HB 4038 requires ODVA to provide reentry services that include assistance with reinstatement of veterans’ benefits and the appointment of veterans’ service officers. Unclaimed property: Unclaimed property in Oregon can be sold or destroyed by the Department of State Lands upon proper notice. HB 4038 excludes military medals and decorations from this process and provides for alternative disposition. Veterans’ preference: Veterans are given certain preferences in hiring for positions within state government, and disabled veterans receive even greater preference. HB 4038 expands the definition of “disabled veteran” for the purpose of receiving public employment preference to include any veterans who are receiving service-connected compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. HB 4098: Apprenticeship Informational Materials and Training. Apprenticeship programs provide onthe-job training for careers in industrial, manufacturing, and construction trades. The Bureau of Labor and Industries currently administers apprenticeship programs in 23 subject areas through its Apprenticeship and Training Division, in partnership with private businesses and local communities. HB 4098 directs ODVA to provide veterans’ organizations and veteran service officers with information and training on apprenticeship opportunities for veterans.

state and federal benefit updates Online VA scheduling now available through My HealtheVet

Nov. 14, 2017 — Veterans can now manage primary care and certain specialty care VA appointments online at participating VA facilities with a Premium My HealtheVet account. If you are eligible to use online scheduling, you will see a “Schedule a VA Appointment” option when you log in to your Premium My HealtheVet account. Army to provide medical care to volunteers who participated in chemical and biological testing

Nov. 21, 2017 — Veterans may be eligible to receive medical care if they participated in chemical or biological substance testing from 1942 to 1975 and have an injury or disease that they believe was proximately caused by their participation. Eligible veterans are encouraged to go to or call 1-800-984-8523.

VA ID Card launched; sign up online

Feb. 2, 2018 — Veterans can now apply for the Veterans Identification Card (VIC) to use as proof of military service. To apply, visit, sign in and establish an account. Then request to “Apply for the Veteran ID Card.” VA now offers adoption reimbursement

March 5, 2018 — Veterans with a serviceconnected disability that results in infertility may now have their adoption expenses reimbured by the VA. The application for reimbursement must be submitted no later than two years after the adoption is final or, in the case of adoption of a foreign child, no later than two years from the date a certificate of U.S. citizenship is issued. Application can be made online. Visit and use VA Form 10152. VA launches nationwide outreach campaign in tribal communities

Jan. 5, 2018 — Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinic in White City is hiring 250 new employees, including 100 focused on mental health care. The VA also plans to grow its mental health teams in Grants Pass and Klamath Falls.

March 8, 2018 — The VA kicked off a nationwide campaign, titled “Your Service. Our Mission: Bringing Benefits Home” March 21. The campaign brings veteran disability enrollment claim events to tribal communities in 11 states including Oregon. To learn more, visit TRIBALGOVERNMENT/locations.asp.

VA releases directive regarding medical marijuana use

Veterans can now use My HealtheVet to access benefits tools on

Jan. 9, 2018 — A new guidance released by the federal VA directs VA clinical staff and pharmacists to discuss how veterans’ use of medical marijuana could interact with other medications or aspects of their care. VA providers are still not permitted to refer veterans to state-approved medical marijuana programs.

March 14, 2018 — Veterans can now visit and sign in with their My HealtheVet credentials. From there, they can access all of the services that provides.

SORCC hiring 250 new employees

New online tool provides customized instructions for discharge upgrade

Jan. 25, 2018 — The VA has partnered with the Department of Defense to launch an online tool providing customized steps tailored to individual veterans attempting to upgrade their discharge. Visit discharge-upgrade-instructions. VA launches welcome kit for all veterans

Feb. 1, 2018 — To solve the question of “Where do I start?” the VA has released a new welcome kit to help veterans use their earned benefits and services. Find it at

New web tool helps veterans track benefits appeals

March 21, 2018 — The VA and U.S. Digital Service launched an improved Appeals Status tool to help veterans track the progress of their benefits claims appeals. The tool is available at disability-benefits/claims-appeal. VA partners with Library of Congress to promote ‘Braille and Talking Book Program for Veterans’

April 5, 2018 — The Braille and Talking Book Program offers books in Braille or audio format either mailed to your door or downloadable digitally. Interested veterans may apply with this form: pdf/application.pdf. 27

BEnefits Corner

By Joe Glover, Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs

A deeper look

Catastrophic Disability Some of the most severely in need veterans may qualify for VA health care even if their medical conditions are not service-related.


n the state of Oregon, it is estimated that only three of every ten veterans are receiving the care and benefits that they are entitled to. It is our goal at the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs to minimize or eliminate that gap entirely. One of the primary benefits that veterans seek, particularly as they get older, is VA health care. Unfortunately due to sufficient income or a lack of military related disability, a veteran who served honorably may not be eligible for health care enrollment at this time. But there is an eligibility loophole that is little known and rarely used called the catastrophic disability designation. The Veterans Health Administration has defined a “catastrophically disabled” veteran as “one who has a severely disabling injury, disorder, or disease that permanently compromises the ability to carry out the activities of daily living to such a degree that the individual requires personal or mechanical assistance to leave their home or bed, or requires constant supervision to avoid physical harm to self or others.” A veteran designated “catastrophically disabled” is not required to have a militaryrelated disability or meet low-income thresholds to be eligible for enrollment. It


doesn’t matter where you served, when you served, or what your job was. Catastrophically disabled veterans are placed into a “priority group” within the VA health care system that makes them exempt from inpatient, outpatient and prescription copayments. They are also exempt from copayments for non-institutional respite care, non-institutional geriatric evaluation, non-institutional adult day health care, homemaker/home health aide, purchased skilled home care, home based primary care, and any other non-institutional alternative extended care services. This is in addition to free hearing aids, eyeglasses and mental health support. If you or someone you know served in the military honorably and has a permanent medical condition unrelated to military service that has left you permanently and severely disabled, you may be eligible for the catastrophic disbility designation. If this sounds like someone that you know, or even if we’re describing you — please reach out and give us at ODVA, your local county veteran service office, or a local VA health care enrollment specialist an hour to talk. It may make a world of difference.

If a veteran meets one of the following permanent conditions because of life events unrelated to military service, they will likely qualify for the catastrophic disability designation: 1. Quadriplegia and quadriparesis. 2. Paraplegia. 3. Legal blindness, defined as visual impairment of 20/200 or less visual acuity in the better seeing eye with corrective lenses, or a visual field restriction of 20 degrees or less in the better seeing eye with corrective lenses. 4. Persistent vegetative state. 5. Amputation. 6. Dependent in three or more activities of daily living. 7. Mental health behavior that is considerably influenced by delusions or hallucinations, or serious impairment in communication or judgment, or inability to function in almost all social areas.


Eat the Apple Matt Young

Eat the Apple is a daring, twisted, and darkly hilarious story of American youth and masculinity in an age of continuous war. Matt Young joined the Marine Corps at age eighteen after a drunken night culminating in wrapping his car around a fire hydrant. The teenage wasteland he fled followed him to the training bases charged with making him a Marine. Matt survived the training and then not one, not two, but three deployments to Iraq, where the testosterone, danger, and stakes for him and his fellow grunts were dialed up a dozen decibels.

Crazy Me

D. Thomas Bixby

Crazy Me is a moving personal account of a 22-year old war veteran’s fight against the paranoia, mental anarchy and debilitating despair of PTSD with schizophrenia; the “split mind’ of the disease is revealed as an internal battle between a long hidden natural self and a false self created to survive a world of childhood illness, physical abuse, and emotional repression of the horrors of war. Written by D. Thomas Bixby, an awardwinning writer and director, as well as a survivor of PTSD and schizophrenia.

Downsized Forgotten Heroes Edward Lee Smith

In Forgotten Heroes, author Edward Lee Smith shares his life story — from his birth in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; to growing up in North Carolina during the Great Depression under the oppressive Jim Crow laws that pervaded the South; to his relatively happy teen years during World War II; to the bloody combat in Korea during the counter offensive of 1951; to joining the National Guard and working his way up to lieutenant colonel.

8 Seconds of Courage

Flo Groberg, Tom Sileo

A story of valor and the making of a hero — Florent “Flo” Groberg, who grew up in France, emigrated to the US, and was the first immigrant in 40 years to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor after he saved many lives by tackling a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. 8 Seconds of Courage is a story of heroism, sacrifice and camaraderie in wartime.

Richard C. Anderson

In Queens, New York, Jim Marsh, an Iraq vet with PTSD, has adapted well to civilian life and is on his way up the corporate ladder. A devoted husband with a wife, two young children, and a new house, he is living the American dream. His employer is engaged in a merger that should bring him a well-deserved promotion. And that’s when he finds it all crashing down around him. In this novel, a man who believes he has lost everything finds himself desperate enough to involve himself in schemes he could never have imagined in his old life.

What Am I Doing Here? Jim Kesey

What Am I Doing Here? is a story that takes an otherwise terrifying event in American history that is familiar to all veterans and brings it into a realm of understanding for the families of those who were there. Jim Kesey weaves a suble but perfectly orchestrated humor through an environment of chaos in this novel that offers a rare look at what it was like to spend a tour in Vietnam.

Volunteer Transition Projects

Transition Projects helps people transition from homelessness to housing. Each year, the nonprofit helps more than 10,000 people through a broad array of services, resources and tools. Those interested in volunteering must attend a mandatory voluntary orientation session. For more information, contact Tamara Chacoh at or 503-280-4741.

See The 15:17 to Paris Warner Bros. (2018)

From Clint Eastwood comes The 15:17 to Paris, which tells the real-life story of three men whose brave actions turned them into heroes during a high-speed railway ride. One of those real-life heroes is Oregonian Alek Skarlatos, a resident of Roseburg, who also stars in the film.

Connect Lift For The 22

Lift For The 22, a national nonprofit providing free gym memberships to veterans, aims to fight suicide in the veteran community by promoting fitness as a new transitional tool. Over a dozen gyms in Oregon currently participate in the program. Apply for a free, one-year membership to a gym near you by visiting the group’s website.

Relax The Fallen Outdoors

The Fallen Outdoors facilitates hunting and fishing adventures for veterans from every generation and all branches of the military. These experiences are designed to help veterans cope with stressors and issues they may be dealing with while connecting with like-minded individuals. To join, visit 29

boots on the ground

Featuring Washington County Veteran Services

U.S. Army infantrymen take cover during the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge in the Korean War.

‘He is Why I Do This Job’


bout two years ago, a Korean War veteran came in to see if he would be eligible for hearing aids and some extra money. He was 86 and still working part-time as a mechanic, but said it was getting difficult to maintain employment. I enrolled him in VA health care, and we got him set up for an audiology appointment. We looked at whether he would qualify for non-service connected pension and determined that his working income put him over the threshold for eligibility. He was reluctant to file for hearing loss, even though he had a combat infantry award and had described several significant “acoustic traumas.” In the course of our conversation, he also mentioned he broke his 30

back and had spent several months in an Army hospital in Tokyo. In the end, we filed for all three (health care, disability compensation and pension). His records had been damaged in the 1973 fire at the National Personel Records Center, so it took almost a year and a half to process his claim, but we finally received word that he had been approved for disability compensation at the 80 percent rate. He also has hearing aids now. He was able to quit working, and even installed air conditioning in his house last summer. He used part of the retroactive pay to travel to see his brother and sister, whom he hadn’t seen for years. He is why I do this job. Vicki Horn

Veteran Services Supervisor

veteran service office Directory

Building Trust, Changing Lives What I like most about my job is the ability to assist those that may not be able to help themselves. One particular veteran comes to mind. Let’s call him “Gabriel.” Gabriel started showing up at the office right about the time I started working for Washington County Disability, Aging and Veteran Services. He was a Vietnam-era veteran, homeless, justice-involved and mentally not well. He came around mostly for the pudding cups and juice that we gave him. Gabriel trusted us and would sometimes fall asleep on the long wooden church bench out in the hall where no one could see him because he felt safe there. Ultimately, Gabriel allowed us to help him file a claim with the VA. Although I was not his veteran service officer, I was fortunate to be able to have played a supporting role in this positive experience both for the veteran and myself. With a great deal of work and persistence from his VSO, Colette Klein, this veteran was awarded a 100 percent service-connected disability rating. I was awarded the honor of helping with a successful outcome for a veteran that was not able to help himself. Wendy Socha

Veteran Services Program Specialist

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, local county veteran service officers (CVSOs) and national service organizations provide claims assistance to all veteran and familiy members. Veteran service officers are accredited by the federal VA and certified by the state of Oregon. The disability claim process begins the moment you file a claim. Service officers are also available to assist with other veteran benefits and resources. To schedule an appointment, please contact the office nearest you.


503 412 4777


503 373 2085


541 523 8223


541 758 1595


503 650 5631


503 791 9983


503 366 6580


A Deeper Impact

541 396 7590

I like my job as a veteran service officer because each claim affords an opportunity to tell the veteran’s unique story against the backdrop of relevant legal statutes. This role regularly involves writing, research and collaboration with my colleagues, and every claim is different. What really makes the work stand out, though, is the relationships with each veteran and family that I get a chance to meet with. Some share fond stories about their service, which they sometimes recall only after discussion about claimed conditions. Others come in looking for hearing aids or some other specific benefit and are happily surprised by the different resources that are available. The cases that often have the greatest impact on me are when the veteran wants help and doesn’t know where else to go. One experience that is especially representative of this was a veteran who had a traumatic experience during his service in the Vietnam War and has struggled with the impacts ever since. He had filed a claim on his own long ago, but didn’t know what evidence was needed and gave up after receiving an unfavorable decision. Since that time, he has had ongoing struggles with employment and strained family relationships. During our first meeting, this veteran described it as a “leap of faith” to not just ask for help but to try submitting his claim again, and talked at length about the importance of validation. Being granted service connection for that condition, he noted, would help him meet financial obligations and open up health care resources for treatment, but with this claim, he was also seeking validation that he does have a condition and it is related to service. This individual developed the necessary evidence for his claim and received a favorable decision. This has been a reminder of the responsibility I hold as a VSO as well as the impact that we can have on people’s lives — far more than just the ultimate result of the decision letter from the VA.

541 447 5304

Sean Files

Veteran Service Officer


541 247 3205


541 385 3214


541 440 4219


541 384 6712


541 620 8057


541 573 1342


541 386 1080


541 774 8214


541 475 5228


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541 883 4274


Before June 4, 2018: 503 373 2085 After June 4, 2018: 503 399 9080


541 922 6420


503 988 8387


503 623 9188


541 565 3408


503 842 4358


541 667 3125


541 962 8802


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541 506 2502


503 846 3060


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503 434 7503


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503 412 4159



541 947 6043 541 682 4191


541 574 6955


541 967 3882


541 889 6649

504 412 4762


503 412 4757


541 604 0963



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Oregon Veterans News Magazine Issue 3