OREGON HAS A COMMUNITY OF VETERANS THAT CONTINUE TO SERVE
Cameron Smith, Director
Veterans’ Day is one day to honor the service and sacrifice of all who have raised their right hand, worn the uniform, defended our freedom, and stood guard over our peace. Across our 70 year history, the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs has witnessed generations of service members returning home and then using their hardearned leadership skills and experience to significantly contribute to our communities and economy. What many citizens may not know is that one out of every 12 Oregonians is a veteran. While our veterans gain great strength from their service, it is not surprising that many can face challenges as they reintegrate home.For those impacted by their service, we must understand their tenacious spirit and resiliency. They deserve nothing less than the best in care, resources and support. There is never a doubt, though, that our learned resilience, idealistic pride, and unwavering dedication to our families, community and each other is stronger because we served in uniform. Take the recent examples of young returning veterans from Oregon like Alek Skarlatos and Chris Mintz. Alek captured international headlines for his essential role in thwarting a terrorist attack while travelling in France after his deployment in Afghanistan with the 186th
Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Brigade, Oregon Army National Guard. Similarly, Chris Mintz, an Army veteran, also chose to run toward chaos on the Umpqua Community College campus to help protect fellow students. He was shot multiple times and thankfully continues to recover for his young family and community. These stories have made the national news, but our local veterans' community is filled with everyday examples of inspiring continued service. In this issue, we highlight Bill Griffith. He is a Navy Corpsman who served in Vietnam and is continuing to serve his fellow veterans. As an award-winning volunteer Long Term Care Ombudsman for skilled nursing facilities, Bill has been volunteering at the Oregon Veterans’ Home in The Dalles. We also have an article in this issue about Advisory Committee Chair Dennis Guthrie, a decorated Vietnam veteran from Redmond who volunteered for Medevac with First Cavalry Division. Dennis recently put his combat medic skills to the test as a good Samaritan. He and another Vietnam veteran, Gary Triplett, helped to care for an injured bicyclist on a remote highway pass coming over the Cascades.
to serve student veterans in her role as a veterans coordinator at Portland Community College. She is a leader for both our fastest growing demographic, women veterans, and for all veterans across Oregon. While our focus is on our veterans, we also must remember the service and sacrifice of our military and veteran families. Judi Van Cleave of Portland was recently elected as the National President of Gold Star Wives of America. Her late husband was a disabled Korean War veteran. Judi’s significant service for two decades with Gold Star Wives of America continues to honor our fallen and their families. Across our team at the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, we are inspired by our service members, veterans and their families. We are honored and privileged to serve them – not just on Veterans’ Day, but throughout the year. It is their individual stories that make up the incredible fabric of our community. No matter the branch of service. No matter the era. No matter who we are or where we live. We stand proudly together. We are Oregon veterans.
A new appointment to our Advisory Committee, Kim Douthit, is a Coast Guard veteran and continues
Director Smith served as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, completing three tours of duty in Iraq. He was honorably discharged after serving five years in the Marines. A graduate of Carleton College in Minn., he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. Director Smith is originally from Boston but happily lives in Portland, Oregon, where he continues to root for the Red Sox.
Vets News is a free publication. Each issue contains current information impacting veterans in Oregon including Federal VA topics and state, regional and local happenings. When credit is given to the source, Vets News articles may be reprinted. BE A GUEST CONTRIBUTOR PHOTO BY MIKE ALLEGRE
ODVA reaches more than 20,000 veterans and their families through its print and electronic publication. We welcome contributions 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, please use the contact information below. Military reunion information and event submissions are welcome; however, please note that all items are printed upon space availability. Submissions for the next issue must be received by April 8, 2016.
Sen. Jeff Merkley presented replacement medals to Navy veteran Ronald Crom’s widow Susan and their daughters Robin and Brandie (not pictured).
MERKLEY PRESENTS MEDALS TO FAMILY On the 240th birthday of the United States Navy, the widow and daughters of Vietnam and Navy veteran Ronald Crom were presented replacement medals by Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley for Crom’s military service from 1966 to 1969. The presentation on October 13 took place on ODVA’s grounds in front of the VFW memorial. “It’s an honor to have helped to restore these medals to the family of Petty Officer Ronald Crom and honor his service to our country,” Merkley said. “Petty Officer Crom went to war for America, and ultimately died of complications resulting from that service. His service medals belong with his family, not tied up in some 2
O R E G O N D E PA R T M E N T O F V E T E R A N S ' A F FA I R S
Defense Department bureaucratic red tape.” Crom served two tours in Vietnam and three years of active duty before being honorably discharged. As a Seabee, he was assigned to the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Forty (NMCB 40) – the “Fighting Forty.” Crom passed away in July 2014. Merkley presented the following replacement medals to Crom’s wife Susan and daughters Robin and Brandie: Navy Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, and Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon.
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PUBLICATION CHANGE NOTICE: In 2016, Vets News will be published in May, August and November.