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
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.
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.
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
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.