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OREGON DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS... WHERE EVERYDAY IS VETERANS DAY Jim Willis, Director Rose Festival Parade Celebrates Greatest Generation For nearly a fortnight each year, the
OREGON DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS... WHERE EVERYDAY IS VETERANS DAY Jim Willis, Director Rose Festival Parade Celebrates Greatest Generation For nearly a fortnight each year, the Portland Rose Festival brings fun and entertainment of all types to the Portland area, and this year was no exception as the annual event was held on Saturday, June 9. Each year the Grand Floral Parade becomes the centerpiece of the Rose Festival and this year the all-floral float entries paid tribute to Rose Festival history, incorporating recreations of some of the best floats of the last century. Since 1907, this internationally distinguished parade has been recognized as one of the top five parades in the nation. In honoring its history, the parade celebrated both past and present generations, among them, The Greatest Generation. This generation celebrates the war time years. Patriotic fervor enveloped the throngs of parade goers with a recreation of a World War II era Victory Parade. Pride swelled in the hearts of many as veterans and active-duty servicemembers from several branches and eras of the Armed Forces from WWII to the present day marched through the streets of Portland! The Royal Rosarians hosted a float for the Wartime Rose Festival Princesses from , who were unable to ride in a parade at that time due to a ban on large public gatherings based on the threat of attack. Spectators were especially excited as a WWIIera tank rumbled down the parade route. Photo Credit: DICK POWERS As the battalion of past and present servicemembers marched through the streets, there were many reminiscent and melancholy moments as veterans and spectators alike recalled the days when these heroes came home. Many a tear was surely shed in remembrance of those who will never come home. Inaugural Military Gala Held in Salem The 1st Oregon All Military Gala was held in the capital city on Saturday, June 16. Director Jim Willis of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event that hosted hundreds of guests from across the state and nation. Terry Williams of the Marine Corps League praised the event as a smashing success and was ready to begin planning for 2008 as Oregon s Own 234th U.S. Army band struck up the party. Staff Sergeant Christian Bagge flew in from Texas to deliver an inspirational keynote speech. Bagge, a former Oregon National The Riderless Horse, Pistol, passes down the parade route. The horse is a symbol of those service men and women who will ride no more. Pistol carried a scroll listing the 3,397 names of the Oregonians who have died in foreign wars over the past century. Guardsman brought to life his personal story of war and triumph over giving his legs in battle after an attack on his Humvee. He spoke of his first thoughts after the attack, while clearly describing his request to tie his wedding band to his wrist. Bagge is now involved in building a memorial in Washington, D.C. with the Disabled Veterans Life Memorial Foundation. After Bagge completed his speech, he was met with a handshake from World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient George Sakato. Sakato and his daughter flew in from See MILITARY GALA, on page 4 The parade began at the Portland Memorial Coliseum and traveled down Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. before crossing the Willamette River and heading for downtown Portland. The route concluded near Civic Stadium after winding through downtown Portland. Director s Message...Page 2 VA News...Page 3 IN THIS ISSUE Memorial Adds Names...Page 5 Dale Albee Remembered...Page 7 Retired Officer Honored...Page 8 Legislative Update...Page 10 Veterans Service Officers...Page 12 1 Director s Message Legislative Session Adjourns By the time this issue of the VETS NEWS goes to press, the legislative session should be adjourned. As you can see from our Oregon Legislative Assembly Winds Down article on page 10 of this edition, veterans and their families had a good session and I would especially like to thank the members of the legislature for approving the ODVA budget for I would also like to thank those veterans and family members who spent hours of volunteer time during this session to testify on bills important to their fellow veterans and their families. I am also grateful to the dedicated staff here at ODVA for their time and effort during the legislative session. One of the bills passed during this session will create the Oregon Veterans Recognition License plate program. We would not have been able to pass this bill without the able assistance of DMV Administrator Lorna Youngs and her staff and I thank her for her support throughout the session. While the final design for the new Veterans license plate is not yet completed, a sample prototype is included in this message to give you some idea of what they will look like in the future. What we do know is that all of the groups who had a special veterans plate will be included in the new design if they choose to use it. Also featured in the new design will be the choice by our veterans to include the seal from their branch of service, or campaign medals or valor medals. A brochure is being produced to explain how these choices will be made. One of the best features of this new program will be that there will only need to be 500 total renewals of all the various kinds of veterans plate to ensure the program will continue year to year. I want to thank the Rose Festival Association for including a salute to our state s veterans as part of this year s Grand Floral parade. The honor paid to veterans is much appreciated and especially the tribute to the Greatest Generation. In closing, I want to wish our great country a very happy 231 st birthday! I hope you will be able to attend some of the many events around our state that honor our country on the 4th of July. Thank you also for your continued support of the Oregon Veterans Home in The Dalles. If you have not had the opportunity to visit our Home, please plan to do so when your travels take you to The Dalles. I hope all of you are having a safe and healthy summer and enjoying some time off with friends and family. Jim Willis, Director SOVO Office Opens in North Bend VETS NEWS 700 Summer St., NE Salem, OR Phone: Fax: Paula Brown, Publisher Robin Steckley, Editor / Writer Mike Allegre, Staff Writer Christopher Dauterman, Staff Writer Dan Long, Staff Writer / Layout / Design Sue Shaffer, Staff Writer Published every other month for Oregon veterans and others interested in news affecting veterans and their dependents. If you wish to receive the VETS NEWS regularly, send your name and address to the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs, Attention Communications Unit, 700 Summer Street, NE, Salem, OR If you are a veteran, please include your era of military service. When credit is given to the source, VETS NEWS articles may be reprinted. However, please call the editor to assure accuracy and timeliness of the articles. Reunions printed upon space availability. Input for the next issue should be received by August 6, The Southwestern Oregon Veterans Outreach held the grand opening of their new North Bend offices in Pony Village. Local dignitaries as well as leaders of local veteran organizations were on hand to celebrate the opening, and honor area veterans. Francis Rowan, Coos Bay Vice President of the Vietnam Veterans of America, was on hand as well as Jim Willis, Director of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs and Coos Bay Mayer, Jeff McKeon to offer some kind words of encouragement and to thank the local veteran community. Vic Diaz presents the Oregon Honorable Service Medal to Dennis Weehunt. After the new offices were officially opened, the congregation moved to the Egyptian Theater where John Neuman, of Vietnam Veterans of Oregon and Members of the Community, presented the Oregon Honorable Service Medal to all veterans in attendance. Following the speeches, the veterans lined up and each was presented with the medal as their name was read, a thank you and handshake was offered and a salute was rendered. The new SOVO offices will now serve as the base of operations for the work they had wanted to do during the years they had sought their non-profit status helping veterans. Southwestern Oregon Veterans Outreach (SOVO) was formed to help bridge the gap between what is available and what is needed for Oregon s veteran community. SOVO was formed by veteran and community representatives to assist in filling the needs of veterans. 2 Three New Veteran Medical Clinics for Oregon A new U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical clinic has opened in East Portland. The clinic is located at NE Glisan Street in the Gateway Medical Building on the 2nd Floor. The clinic can be reached at The VA announced on May 29th that 38 new veteran clinics will soon open across the nation. The new facilities, called communitybased outpatient clinics, or CBOCs, are slated to be operational by October Dr. James Tuchschmidt of the Portland VAMC recently announced a 20,000 square foot clinic will open in Washington County. The VA is still scouting areas for construction. Officials at the Johnathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center in Walla Walla Wash., announced a decision from the VA Central Office for the location of a clinic in La Grande. Local VA officials will continue to provide updates on the creation of the new CBOCs. For assistance in enrollment, contact the nearest Veterans Service Officer listed on page 12. New VA Loan Program Interface The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently completed a project to redesign all loan servicing regulations, processes, and reporting requirements. The new regulatory environment is being implemented through process changes, organizational changes, and a new application service. The new application service is called the VA Loan Electronic Reporting Interface (VALERI) replaces the current loan servicing system. VALERI is slated for implementation beginning in November of this year with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc. Implementation is scheduled for completion by August of VA will continue publishing implementation information on the VALERI website online at The ODVA home loan website is online at VA Moves to Strengthen Suicide Prevention The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced plans to hire suicide prevention counselors at each of its 153 medical centers. VA will be reviewing all of the Department s programs to care for the mental health needs of veterans, especially those returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. In May, VA announced an initiative to hire 100 new employees to provide readjustment counseling at each of the Department s 207 community-based Vets Centers. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson said, Every suicide is a tragedy that sends ripples of pain throughout families and communities. VA health care professionals are committed to provide timely, compassionate intervention, which might help prevent this needless suffering. The Department spends nearly $3 billion a year for mental health services to care for about 1 million VA patients with a mental health diagnosis. Vietnam Memorial to Celebrate 25 Years Twenty-five years after its dedication, the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. will host events over Veterans Day weekend, November 7-11, and celebrate a quartercentury of being a healing place for veterans and their families. Beginning on November 7, approximately 2,000 volunteers will read the 58,256 names inscribed on the Wall. The reading of names will take place for 65 hours over a four-day period. This will mark the fourth time in The Wall s history that all of the names have been read aloud in Washington, D.C. The Memorial stands as a symbol of America s honor and recognition of the men and women who served and those that sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. The memorial remains the most visited in the nation s capital with more than 4 million visitors annually. On April 27, the names of three more American servicemen were inscribed on the walls of the Memorial as their deaths were found by the Department of Defense to have been directly related to the war. Another 14 servicemembers received status changes. A Memorial Center, which is slated to open in 2010, will be an underground facility with displays relating the Memorial s history and a timeline of the war. Another planned exhibit will feature some of the 100,000 items left at The Wall a unique legacy for current and future generations to contemplate. To learn more about the Vietnam War Memorial and the 25 th anniversary events, go to: Jerry Pero, Chairman of the Vietnam Veterans of Oregon Memorial Fund, is coordinating a group trip, which will leave Portland, Oregon on November 9 th. The trip includes round trip airfare, eight nights at the State Plaza Hotel, and round trip transportation between the airport and the hotel. Although special events are planned, much of the time will be free for independent sightseeing. Rates range between $ and $1, per person based on the number of people sharing a room. Rates are subject to change. The deadline for making reservation is August 1 st. A non-refundable deposit of $ per person is necessary to guarantee a space. For more information, or to make a reservation, please call Diane Jacobus at Nob Hill Travel in Portland by calling After hours you may call Jerry Pero at Tri-State Women Veterans Conference Set for 2008 Women from Oregon, Washington and Idaho will be converging on the new Pendleton Convention Center for the inaugural Tri State Women Veterans Conference, April 18-19, The Washington and Idaho Departments of Veterans Affairs, in partnership with the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, are inviting female veterans from all three states to attend the conference free of charge. Registration is required. A variety of workshops concerning veterans benefits and entitlements, women s health issues and employment/job seeking tips will be offered on both days. Bob Welch, the author of American Nightingale the story of Frances Slanger, Forgotten Heroine of Normandy, is scheduled to be the conference s keynote speaker. Nominations for the Outstanding Woman Veteran Award are now being taken. You may obtain a nomination form, register for the conference or receive more information by visiting the Women s Veterans Conference webpage, ing or by calling VA Medical Centers Extending Hours In order to provide more health care for more veterans, especially mental health services, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson has directed the 153 medical centers of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to keep their doors open longer. Illness doesn t follow a 9-to-5 schedule, Nicholson said. I m directing our medical centers to provide extended hours to ensure we re there for the veterans who have earned our care. Although the extra hours apply to many hospital-based programs and services, Nicholson said his latest decision was based upon a desire to ensure VA s more than 9,000 mental health professionals are available when veterans need them. VA operates the largest integrated health care system in the country and the nation s largest mental health program. About 5.5 million veterans are expected to seek health care from VA s nationwide system this year, accounting for about 800,000 hospitalizations and 60 million outpatient visits. VA s mental health experts will gather in Washington in July for a four-day conference reassessing the Department s programs for veterans, especially veterans from the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. At this time, the details as to which facilities the extended hours will impact and what the hours will be has not yet been established. MILITARY GALA from page 1 Colorado to attend the Gala. Two other Medal of Honor recipients, James Taylor and John Finn were unable to attend the event as planned. Brigadier General Raymond Byrne of the Oregon Army National Guard also attended the Gala and sat with Bagge. Honorary guests at the event also included Gold Star families, and war veterans from the Band of Brothers. The Gala kicked off with the entire crowd singing the National Anthem as the U.S. Marine Corps 6th ESB posted the colors. A Service Flag Ceremony paid tribute to each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces with recognition to servicemembers, veterans, families and friends alike. The Greater Salem Area Veterans Organization (GSAVO) provided a historical military dispay at the event. The Veterans Advisory Board on Dose Reconstruction (VBDR) will hold its sixth public meeting September 19-20, in Chicago, Illinois. The goal of VBDR is to provide guidance and oversight of the dose reconstruction and claims compensation programs for veterans of U.S.-sponsored atmospheric nuclear weapons tests from ; veterans of the occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan; and veterans who were prisoners of war in those regions at the conclusion of World War II. Oregon International Air Show to Host Veterans The Oregon International Air Show has partnered with the local veteran community to again host veterans and their guests during air show weekend, August 11-12, at the Hillsboro Airport. Sponsored by Dignity Memorial, the Veterans Commemoration Chalet exists to honor veterans and acknowledge their service to America. This year the Chalet s coordinator, Lt. Col. (ret.) Scott Justice said 300 passes per day would be distributed on a first come, first served basis. While registration ended in June, veterans may still be able to register online and be placed on an invitation list. The invitation will then be mailed to them. The first 300 veterans to mail back that form and RSVP 4 Director Willis summed up the evening by saying, This first ever Oregon Military Gala gave thanks to all branches of the armed forces and all eras of service. As we look forward to the 4th of July, it is good to remember those who fought to keep our country free. What a great evening. Attendees were treated with a gift bag and keepsake photographs. The Gala was title sponsored by Spirit Mountain Casino and Five- Star donors included Ned Baker Real Estate, Willamette Valley Multiple Listing, and Mattress World of Salem. Many donors and raffle gift sponsors helped make the event possible. Planning has already begun for a 2008 Military Gala. To learn more, call Connie Riecke of the Marine Corps Family Foundation at Veterans Advisory Board on Dose Reconstruction to Meet in September The meetings will be held at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Multi Conference Center B and C, Room 2446, 820 South Damen Ave. All interested persons are encouraged to attend. Advance registration to attend the meetings or to present an oral statement is not necessary. For more information on VBDR, call toll-free VBDR (8237), or visit will receive packets containing identification for free VIP parking, admission onto the airfield, and seating for two in the Veterans Chalet near show center. This year, the 20 th annual air show will again be hosting the U.S. Navy s Blue Angels with their crowd pleasing flying demonstrations. Other performers will include the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, an A-10 Thunderbolt and A-1 Skyraider, Sean D. Tucker, Team Oracle and other demonstration teams. Check for more information online at: info/dignity-memorial-veterans-chalet.asp. For additional information, call Justice at or Fred Suter, Afghan - Iraqi Freedom Memorial Adds Names of Fallen It was a day of contrasts. The forecast for May 28 was for sunny skies, but as the morning sun gave way to overcast skies and a chilly breeze, the forecast seemed wrong. Then around noon, the skies cleared, the sun came through and the gentle breeze felt much warmer. It was about this same time that the steady stream of motorcycles and riders descended upon the grounds. The roaring of the bikes were a stark contrast to the solemn peace and
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