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Senator Doug Whitsett
R- Klamath Falls, District 28

Phone: 503-986-1728 900 Court St. NE, S-303, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: sen.dougwhitsett@state.or.us
Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/whitsett
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E-Newsletter 5/30/13 

Our Veterans

On Memorial Day we joined families across this nation in remembering and honoring, the dedicated men and women who have served to defend this great country, both at home and abroad. We believe that there is no greater calling, no greater service, than to volunteer to put oneself in harmís way, to defend and protect our nation and her people. 

Our brave men and women have been answering that call to defend and protect the freedoms that we so cherish since the revolutionary war. Each generation, like the generations before them, have willingly assumed the responsibility to defend our freedom and independence. That legacy continues today and we should never take that dedication for granted.

        Too many of our armed service men and women have sacrificed their lives so that we may remain a free people. Others have sustained grievous physical and mental wounds. They all have dedicated a significant amount of their lives in their collective effort to ensure that the United States remains a worldwide beacon of freedom.

         We should also remember and honor the families and friends of our servicemen. They too have sacrificed immensely in order to enable their loved ones to serve. Too many bear the scars of the loss of loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice. Others continue to care for service men and women who have sustained physical and mental injuries that will never entirely heal.      

It is entirely appropriate that we dedicate Memorial Day to the remembrance of our fallen heroes and their families. But we should also remember and give thanks to all of the members of our armed forces and their families who have served and that are still with us today. Too many of these dedicated people are in need of our help.

        For more than two decades, Oregon National Guard members have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is common for these men and women to have been repeatedly sent to serve in combat theatres. For many, the physical and mental wounds from these sustained deployments have never healed.

The mental health needs of many veterans are significant, and are not being adequately met. It is a startling fact that more than ten times as many service men and women have died by their own hand compared to all those who have been killed in combat since the 9-11 attack. Many Vietnam War veterans continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome and other war related maladies. Yet less than half of Oregonís more than 325 thousand veterans have been able to access the benefits that they earned.

         Another sad fact is that nearly 20 percent of Oregon soldiers who were deployed to Iraq in 2009 and 2010 continue to be unemployed. We can and must do much more to help our citizen soldiers in their reintegration from military to civilian life. This is a responsibility that each of us bear and one that we should all take seriously. Who among us does not know at least one veteran, or the family of a veteran, that we could reach out to help on a daily basis? 

Oregon government could and should do more for our Stateís veterans. Republican legislators have introduced House Joint Resolution 29 that would enable Oregon voters to dedicate 5 percent of state lottery revenue to veteransí programs. If enacted, this law would provide more than $50 million to Oregon veteranís programs for each two year budget cycle.

        To put that allocation of money for the care of our veterans into perspective, it amounts to one third of the 15% of lottery revenue already dedicated to parks and wildlife and fish habitat.

Unfortunately, the House Democrat leadership has taken no action, and appears unlikely to take any action, to allow passage of this Resolution to refer the question to the voters of Oregon to decide. I believe that Oregonians believe that our veterans are at least as important as our fish and wildlife habitat and that they would enact the law in a heartbeat if given the opportunity.

Memorial Day is a day for each of us to stop and remember all those who have served in our armed forces. We should give thanks to them not just on Memorial Day, but on every day of every year. We should give thanks because it is they who have stood and continue to stand watch twenty-four-seven, three hundred sixty five days each year. It is their ongoing dedication that allows each of us, to live and sleep in the safety and comfort, of our homes and communities. 

Please remember, if we do not stand up for rural Oregon no one will.

Best Regards,

 Doug

 

 

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