Vets News HeaderNimitz Cover

This statue of World War II Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, created by Oregon sculptor Rip Caswell, will be bronzed and placed at the entry to the warship USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

In this issue...



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By Mike Allegre

TROUTDALE -- When a statue of World War II Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz is delivered in August to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, it will permanently grace the entry to the famed Battleship Missouri Memorial. Notably, America’s newest national monument began its trek to Hawaii from Portland on August 2 following a celebratory community send-off in Troutdale.

The artist who sculpted Nimitz’s likeness, Oregonian Rip Caswell, was joined by hundreds of guests at the monument’s unveiling at Mayor’s Square in Old Troutdale on July 31. Retired US Navy Rear Admiral Douglas Moore and Cameron Smith, the director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, shared the podium.

Caswell said the Nimitz statue is very dear to him, but when he first got the commission to sculpt it, he didn’t know who the admiral was.

"Then I immersed myself in his history and interviewed people who knew or photographed him.

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The grandson of a retired sea captain, Nimitz graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1905. He served during World War I, but later as World War II unfolded, the admiral would become commander-in-chief of Pacific Ocean Areas, while keeping his Pacific Fleet command. He would command the whole Pacific theater except for Gen. Douglas MacArthur's section of the Southwest Pacific and the inactive southeast.

He participated in seven separate major sea battles in the Pacific, including The Battles of Leyte Gulf, Midway and Iwo Jima. At war’s end and after their unconditional surrender, Nimitz signed the peace treaty with Japan aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.

On Dec. 15, 1945, Nimitz was named commander-in-chief of the United States Fleet, a five-star rank position he held for the next two years. In somewhat of an unofficial retirement, he was then assigned to serve under the Secretary of the Navy.

Since the rank of fleet admiral is a lifetime appointment, the highly decorated Nimitz remained on active duty from the end of the war until his death, four days short of his 81st birthday on Feb. 1966. He was the United States’ last surviving fleet admiral.  Nimitz’s statue will be unveiled in a ceremony, September 2, at the USS Missouri on the 68th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific Theatre.

Photo Caption Top Left: Oregon sculptor Rip Caswell stands next to the statue he created of World War II Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz before it was bronzed and shipped to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Right: Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.


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Moving Forward: Focused Strategy
And True Coordination Across Partners

Summer is in full swing and I hope our veterans and their families are enjoying all that Oregon offers.

The 77th Legislative Session recently wrapped up in July after starting their important work in February. As a community, we can be very proud of the support for our veterans and military families this session from the Legislature and Governor.

Much of our work depends on the dollars and cents of a strong budget for our veterans’ efforts. We were pleased to have no cuts in our overall veteran services budget. In fact, the Legislature supported an additional $1 million appropriation to fund essential veterans’ outreach through the County Veteran Service Offices.

Working with all of you, we were also able to pass a number of legislative bills to further honor our veterans. Recognition of our veterans is important; Oregon will name Interstate 84 for our Vietnam Veterans and Senate Bill 1 ensures all veterans can request Veterans’ Day off from their employers.

Other bills had significant policy and program impacts for our veterans. These included in-state tuition rates for all veterans, college tuition waivers for dependents of Purple Heart recipients since 9-11, and efforts to prevent veterans’ homelessness and suicide. A complete review of the bills from the 2013 Regular Session impacting veterans can be found on page 4.

While I am proud of ODVA’s team for our work this session and in our core programs every day, we also recognize no one agency or organization can address the diverse needs of our veterans. We also recognize that state budgets and policy are important, but a focused strategy and true coordination across partners can be even more impactful for our veterans.

Going forward, we are excited to take a hard look at our strategic vision as a department and translate it into an effective action plan with measured outcomes. This will include an internal review process for our team, but also demand a larger conversation with all of you and our broader stakeholders.

The statistics on veterans are national in scope, but our success in serving our veterans will be community by community and with all of you as partners. I want to personally thank you for all of your leadership and efforts to support Oregon’s veterans and military families. Together, we will continue to make a difference one veteran at a time.

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By Marc Huchette

The Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs recently launched a new initiative focused on getting veterans connected to community resources. Currently there are more than 330,000 veterans living in Oregon with only a third utilizing their earned state and federal benefits.

At a recent Veterans’ Summit hosted by ODVA, it was noted that even though veterans could learn about some of their veteran benefits online, there wasn’t a seamless way to connect to veteran resources available in their local communities. This presented a great opportunity for ODVA to bridge that gap through the innovative use of technology.

This spring ODVA began partnering with counties to create and host county veteran service office websites. Once completed, these sites will be linked from ODVA’s various online sites and together, will provide a streamlined flow of federal, state and local veteran benefit information and resources.

"From the Greatest Generation to the most recent veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, our veterans and their families are online. We are very excited to partner with the county veteran service offices to develop these websites and better connect our veterans to benefits and resources in their local communities," said Cameron Smith, Director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

In the first phase of this project, ODVA began working with 19 counties in the initial setup, creation, and implementation of their sites. This included one-on-one training on adding content so that it is always the most accurate information available. Features of the new sites include unique URL's, an interactive google map, links to the counties social media sites, a sign-up option to follow blog posts, a healthy search function of the sites content, and convenient links to ODVA, the new Veterans Home and ORVET Home Loan sites.

On average there are close to 25,000 web searches a month for the words "Oregon Veteran." Those web searches generally point to the ODVA state website and not to any county resources. To help veterans find the information they are looking for, ODVA is also working to make sure the county sites are meta-tagged to be picked up in google searches.

Klamath County was one of the first counties to partner with ODVA and begin the process of offering in depth local veteran resource information online.

"These sites are going to really allow veterans to connect locally. This was a much needed missing piece of the puzzle. Veterans normally do a web search for resources at the state level and not county," said Kathy Pierce from the Klamath County Veteran Service Office.

The first 19 counties are slated for completion by the end of this summer. The second phase will begin late this fall, allowing the remaining 17 counties to join the statewide effort. An overall completion date is planned for year end.

Once completed, Oregon will be leading the country in connecting veterans to local resources. Visit www.oregondva.com to connect to a new county veteran services site.



bill signing

SALEM – With 10 World War II veterans and other supporters in his ceremonial office on June 25, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed House Joint Memorial 17 which respectfully urges the U.S. Congress to direct the Pentagon to reopen and review Oregonian Leonard DeWitt’s Medal of Honor nomination and upgrade his Distinguished Service Cross to a Medal of Honor.

Oregon’s 77th Legislative Assembly asserts that an oversight allowed DeWitt’s Medal of Honor nomination package to sit idle in Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s office after being approved by the commanding general of the 6th U.S. Army.

HJM 17 states that not awarding DeWitt, a retired lieutenant colonel, the Medal of Honor for his actions against Japanese forces in New Guinea during World War II was a regrettable oversight. The nomination states that as a member of Oregon’s famed 41st Division, "Sgt. DeWitt defended a ridge in New Guinea against massing Japanese soldiers and took personal initiative, single-handedly attacking the Japanese troops before they could sweep his company off the ridge. DeWitt engaged in brutal hand-to-hand combat to protect his fellow soldiers and maintain the American position."

Kitzhaber also signed Senate Bill 832A which designates the second Sunday in August as Spirit of ‘45 Day to honor all veterans of World War II. In 2010, Congress unanimously agreed that a national "Spirit of ‘45 Day" be observed to coincide with the anniversary of Aug. 14, 1945, the day President Truman announced the end of World War II.

The governor expressed his gratitude for being able to sign the Bill and noted that his father was a World War II veteran. Spirit of ’45 Day will be celebrated across nearly 500 cities on August 11 of this year.

An event celebrating Spirit of ’45 Day will be held at the State Capitol in Wilson Park at the future site of Oregon’s World War II Memorial, August 11, from 5-7 p.m. Among the guests will be World War II veterans retired Brig. Gen. James Thayer, Pearl Harbor survivor, Ed Johann, and DeWitt, a Medal of Honor nominee.

Oregon is now one of a handful of states to jointly designate that day to help preserve the legacy of the men and women of the "Greatest Generation."  Oregon is now one of a handful of states to jointly designate that day to help preserve the legacy of the men and women of the "Greatest Generation."

 Photo Caption Top Left: Gov. John Kitzhaber signed Senate Bill 832A which designates the second Sunday in August as Spirit of ‘45 Day in Oregon to honor all World War II veterans. World War II veterans (L-R) Lt. Col. (Ret.) Leonard De Witt and Brig. Gen. (Ret.) James Thayer watch over Kitzhaber’s left shoulder as he signs the bill.

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WASHINGTON – Six programs in Oregon will share $3.3 million of the $300 million in grants that the VA will award nationwide to help approximately 120,000 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. The grants have been awarded to 319 community agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

In Oregon the funding will aid more than 760 participant households. The groups receiving the grants include: Community Action Team, Inc., St. Helens; St. Vincent De Paul of Lane County Inc.; Central Oregon Veterans Outreach; Transition Projects, Inc., Portland; Access, Inc., in Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine Counties; and Easter Seals Society of Oregon in Marion and Polk Counties.

"With these grants, we are strengthening our partnership with community non-profits across the country to provide Veterans and their families with hope, a home, and a future," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "The work of Supportive Services for Veteran Families program grantees has already helped us prevent and end homelessness among tens of thousands of homeless veterans and their families, but as long as a single veteran lives on our streets, we have work to do."

This is the third year SSVF grants have helped veterans and their families find or remain in their homes. Last year, VA provided about $100 million to assist approximately 50,000 veterans and family members.

Under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, VA is awarding grants to private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives that provide services to very low-income Veteran families living in -- or transitioning to -- permanent housing. The SSVF program supports VA’s efforts to prevent at-risk veterans from becoming homeless and rapidly re-house those who have recently fallen into homelessness.

The SSVF grants will assist those community organizations to provide a range of services that promote housing stability and play a key role in connecting veterans and their family members to VA services such as mental health care and other benefits. Community-based groups can offer temporary financial assistance on behalf of veterans for rent payments, utility payments, security deposits and moving costs.

Through the homeless veterans initiative, VA committed over $1 billion in fiscal year 2013 to strengthen programs that prevent and end homelessness among veterans. VA provides a range of services to homeless veterans, including health care, job training, and education.

To get more information about services from Oregon providers call them direct: Community Action Team, Inc., St. Helens, 503-397-3511; St. Vincent De Paul of Lane County, Inc., 541-743-7166 or 7140; Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, 541- 383-2793; Transition Projects, Inc., Portland, 503-823-4930; Access, Inc. 541-779-6691, select option 2 then 3; Coos and Curry Counties, 541-435-7080; Douglas County, 541-672-3421, Jackson County, 541-779-6691, select option 2 then 3; Josephine County, 541-672-3421; and Easter Seals Society of Oregon in Marion and Polk Counties, 503-362-1572.

More information about VA’s homeless programs is available at www.va.gov/homeless


As a veteran community, we can be very proud of the support our veterans and military families received from the Oregon Legislature and Governor Kitzhaber during the 2013 Regular Session.

Across the state, service organizations, agencies and veterans in the community actively worked to support the passage of a number of legislative bills impacting education, employment and further enhancing state benefits for veterans and their dependents.

Please CLICK HERE for a full review of veteran related legislation passed during the 2013 Regular Session.



By Mike Allegre

John Patrick Hughes was born on March 17th, 1923 on St. Patrick’s Day. At age 27, he was already a veteran of World War II and had served with the occupation forces in Japan. The Milton-Freewater, Ore. resident again answered his country’s war time call as America and 21 allied nations were fighting against North Korea and the Chinese.

Hughes’ five-year-old daughter Kathleen still recalls travelling with her family to Fort Lewis, Wash. to say goodbye as her dad deployed to South Korea. It would be Hughes’ final goodbye to his wife and three young daughters.

In early September of 1950, as North Koreans troops were advancing on American held positions south of Busan, a platoon of soldiers led by Staff Sgt. John P. Hughes was laying land mines to create a defensive position. Sadly, one inadvertently exploded killing Hughes.

Days later, a half-a-world away in Oregon, the Hughes family had gathered for a Sunday meal at their farm. Kathleen watched her mother look up as she had noticed a cloud of dust on the road heading towards their home.

"We didn’t know who it could be and didn’t recognize the car until it got close," she remembered.

A man got out of a taxi holding an envelope that contained a telegram for Mrs. Hughes. Upon reading the sad unexpected news, the family setting was silenced.

"Dad wasn’t coming home. He had been killed in action near the Nakdong River. We didn’t know how it happened, but dad was gone."

Later she would read the letters her father had sent to her mother from the front. He described the devastation and the hardships endured by both sides, including the World War II-era equipment used by U.S. soldiers and how some men were sent to Korea and were not completely trained.

Staff Sgt. Hughes’ remains were soon transported home. He was buried with honors in Milton-Freewater. Kathleen’s life and that of her family had now drastically changed. Even today at age 90, Kathleen says her mother has never forgotten the love of her life.

Now 68, Kathleen Mischke is a retired gerontologist living in Beaverton, Ore. She had been dreaming of going to South Korea to see where her dad had spent his last days. Her husband David would soon turn 70, so she was planning a celebration trip to Asia.

Before departing, she contacted a Korean War veterans’ association in Oregon. Former Oregon State Sen. John Lim put her in touch with his acquaintances in that city.

The South Koreans who heard about Mischke were so touched by her quest they arranged to pick the couple up at their ship and hold a ceremony at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan. There her father’s name is inscribed on a large monument with the names of all U.S. troops who had died in that war.

On April 5, 2013, more than 62 years after Hughes was killed, Kathleen and David had finally arrived and would begin a short day trip. They would be very close to the area where her father had been killed.

As the couple disembarked the cruise ship, they looked out and wondered why so many people and a limousine were waiting for them. They would soon learn their reception committee included the vice mayor of Busan, the president of the World Korean Interchange Association, an interpreter and other interested onlookers.

"Local government officials, a representative of the Consulate General’s office, and former presidential candidate Moon Jae-in were among the well-wishers. We were so surprised and amazed at this outpouring of welcome and kindness," she said.

Now unexpectedly standing before a crowd of nearly 100 people and local media, Kathleen addressed the audience using an interpreter.

Later she cried when placing flowers at the memorial. Then Kathleen touched her father’s name, an experience she described as "overwhelming." They were then whisked away to a beautiful restaurant and treated to lunch with their hosts.

"Considering what’s happening there now, it’s important that these things are remembered," she said, referring to the tensions between the two Koreas.


"The Koreans genuinely appreciate all that America did during that war and they told us that repeatedly," Kathleen said. "In a very significant way they acknowledged my father and other Americans who gave their lives. They knew of and are truly thankful for America’s sacrifices and for the loss of my dad when I was a little girl."

Kathleen said closure with her dad’s death wasn’t what she sought. That had occurred 60 years before.

"I truly had wanted to walk where my father had walked and experience Korea today. I wanted to do what most family members of the fallen can’t do; visit the area where a loved one had fallen in war time," she added.

"And certainly I desired to pay deep respects at the Wall of Remembrance where his name and other American names are engraved. That day I really did feel connected to my dad, like he was there with me."

Asked about what a little girl thinks about as she remembers her dad. "I remember him teaching me to roller skate. He sang funny songs and he could whistle louder than anybody I knew," she said.

He was always my hero and he didn’t come home."

Kathleen said closure with her dad’s death wasn’t what she sought. That had occurred 60 years before.

"I truly had wanted to walk where my father had walked and experience Korea today. I wanted to do what most family members of the fallen can’t do; visit the area where a loved one had fallen in war time," she added.

"And certainly I desired to pay deep respects at the Wall of Remembrance where his name and other American names are engraved. That day I really did feel connected to my dad, like he was there with me."

Asked about what a little girl thinks about as she remembers her dad. "I remember him teaching me to roller skate. He sang funny songs and he could whistle louder than anybody I knew," she said.

He was always my hero and he didn’t come home."

Photo Caption: Top Left Kathleen Hughes Mischke is surrounded by local media as she tearfully touches the name of her dad, Staff Sgt. John P. Hughes, (middle right) on a Korean War memorial wall while visiting Busan, South Korea in April. Hughes’ name is engraved with more than 35,000 other Americans who lost their lives in the Korean War.

home loan



By Mike Allegre

SALEM -- Oregon veterans are volunteering and providing outreach statewide to help or assist not only veterans but anyone dealing with long term care situations where advocacy and intervention may be needed. More than 30 veterans are volunteering around Oregon, but the Office of Oregon’s Long Term Care Ombudsman needs more people to be trained for this special outreach.

Gretchen Jordan coordinates volunteers for the Ombudsman’s office. She is very pleased with how wonderful these caring veterans, who served their country, are also volunteering to serve others.

"We have about 30 veterans who volunteer. I love hearing about how they want to reach out, help and give back to others in need," Jordan said. "With about 43,000 people in long-term care facilities the need for volunteers is great statewide."

The services provided by the agency are free and available to residents, families, facility staff, and the general public. Ombudsmen respond to a wide variety of resident concerns, including problems with resident care, medications, billing, lost property, meal quality, evictions, guardianships, dignity and respect, and care plans. The program serves residents in nursing facilities, residential care facilities, assisted living facilities and adult foster care homes.

Complaints are investigated and resolved by staff and a cadre of trained and certified volunteer ombudsmen assigned to facilities throughout the state. Beyond complaint investigation and resolution, ombudsmen strive to be the eyes and ears of residents and to advocate for improvements in their quality of life and quality of care.

Volunteers have a unique role and many times their advocacy may go against what a doctor or family wants. Some situations can be complicated, but it’s still rewarding for the volunteers.

One such volunteer is Suzanne Hansen of Eagle Point, near Medford. A retired Air Force colonel, Hansen served 25 years as a nurse at many base medical facilities including the Pentagon and in Germany. Following a decision to move to Oregon after she and her husband retired from the military five years ago they chose to reside in the Rogue Valley.

"We’re not originally from Oregon, but we wanted to begin volunteering in our community to help others and stay busy, so I took the training the Ombudsman’s office provides and have been involved since," Hansen said.

Hansen goes where she’s assigned and that could be a foster home, assisted living facility or a hospital. The cases range from medical to emotional needs, but always Hansen and other volunteers like her are trained to advocate for the resident or patient and ensure their rights are not violated and they’re not forced into doing something they may legally choose not to do.

One of the more difficult cases Hansen encountered was a diabetic who was refusing to follow the proper diet or take their insulin. She said it was all about the legal right for the patient to choose what they wanted. It might mean that later they would not be cared for at that facility due to failing health, but they must advocate for what the resident or patient desires.

"This man simply said no to further treatment and didn’t want to have to be on a restricted diet. I had to tell his caretakers that it was his right to make that choice and that they couldn’t force him to do otherwise," she said. "That choice can go against your personal beliefs and feelings especially if I may know what will happen to the patient’s health."

Like other volunteers, Hansen also keeps a watchful eye on local foster care homes. "I visit them to see that they’re safe and that residents are cared for and not abused or neglected. Some days I’m like a dog on a hunt," she laughed. "We determine what’s needed, who should be involved and help direct that support or information to the resident or patient, and involve the right people to assist. We’re always networking for answers and solutions."

Hansen loves volunteering. For five years, she and her husband, Jim have spent 3-6 months annually serving at an Irish Missionary hospital in Uganda. As a cardiologist, Jim consults and helps at the HIV Clinic and Tuberculosis ward. Helping others remains a focus for the Hansens. "God’s blessed us both so much and it’s our obligation to give back to others with our talents. And being retired we have the time to help. We enjoy it."

In Tigard, Navy veteran Mike Patterson has volunteered with the Ombudsmen’s office for more than 10 years. Over the years he has served and advocated for more than 200 people. Today, he is assigned to three adult foster homes, two nursing homes and an assisted living facility.

"I volunteer because of all the good people I meet and deal with, he said. "Over time you become a part of many of their lives and involved in the lives of their family and others."

Those interactions are not always enjoyable. Patterson remembered two separate times that forced him to apply understanding and compassion. He was assigned to check on an elderly lady where family confrontations and some verbal abuse were suspected.

"The lady’s daughter came storming at me in the hallway outside of the apartment. She began yelling and telling me I couldn’t talk to her mother. I soon learned that she was interfering with the doctor’s orders," Patterson said. "After that confrontation I called adult protective services to ensure the resident was protected. The daughter’s behavior became more appropriate after that."

Like Hansen, Patterson is a veteran. He served as a Navy Corpsman stateside from 1966-70. And as all ombudsman volunteers learn, advocating for someone means learning what that person prefers. While volunteers ultimately support what the resident or patient requests, they also encourage them to consider alternatives that maybe in their best interests.

It was that situation that led Patterson to an elderly resident in an assisted living home. The man had recently lost a dear friend and was becoming more and more despondent. He was refusing to cooperate with the staff so they were unable to provide the care he needed." Patterson said.

"His condition became worse and a close family member and I tried to encourage him to reconsider his choices. I advised him that is he continued to refuse care, the facility would have to send him to another facility for more immediate care. I have a good relationship with this resident and want what is best for him, but I also have to respect his right to refuse care."

Long-time volunteer Dan Dunham said these types of issues make for a huge dynamic and many times a change for families to deal with. "Having an ombudsman be the voice for the residents is important. They can help, educate and empower the residents and they educate caregivers many times, also."

The agency reported more than 13,000 visits in 2012, with 90 percent completed by volunteers. "And 80 percent of the issues dealt with by our more than 200 volunteers were handled within 3 days or less, Dunham said.

"But we have fewer statewide volunteers now with about 170 in July. So, we’re in need more willing people to train and serve, especially in Oregon’s rural areas."

Dunham recalled a line from the agency’s report that may sum up how important the volunteer’s work is:

"Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch."

The agency will be conducting monthly training for volunteers throughout the state through November. To learn more about volunteering visit

Photo Caption: Above Left Dan Dunham is a long-time volunteer with the Office of Oregon’s Long Term Care Ombudsman.


keys to progress

By Marc Huchette

Iraq War veteran Kevin Kirby and his wife Angela Vossburg have eight children and live near Oregon City. Kirby spends most of his time assisting disabled veterans and staying active at the local VFW.

He has done all this without having a reliable working vehicle, but that changed when he was awarded a refurbished 2007 Hyundai Tucson, courtesy of Progressive Insurance.

On June 12, Progressive held a one-day, countrywide event called Keys to Progress. Oregon’s event took place at the Oregon City Progressive Service Center, which handles claims and coordinates repairs for customers. Progressive Insurance donated the car and International Collision Repair refurbished it. The National Auto Body Council, local body shops, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, 1-800 Charity Cars, local VFWs and other military charities also participated in the program.

The award was part of a national program called "Keys to Progress." A former Marine, Cpl. Kirby was selected for the honor because he volunteers much of his time helping disabled veterans here in Oregon.

"Kirby always went above and beyond to help and assist fellow veterans in the area any way he could," said Three Rivers VFW Post 1324 commander Ken Kraft. "Kevin is one of those individuals that always puts others needs before his own and that is why he and his family were so deserving of this award."

"I never asked for anything in return and this, out of the blue, was amazing," Kirby said. "I don’t like to ask for help—I’m more of a giver. And this is unbelievable. Now I will be able to help so many more veterans than I could before."

Kirby and his family also received a trunk full of groceries, school supplies, and an Xbox 360 for his children.

"Hearing the stories of the veterans who are receiving these vehicles highlights how important this effort truly is," said Tom Minnick, senior claims director at Progressive Insurance. "These are proud people who served our country, and we're able to give them a boost with Keys to Progress. Whether they need the car to go to work, volunteer or get medical treatment, we're happy that we’re able to help them keep moving forward."

Enterprise Rent-A-Car, a partner that offers rental vehicles at Progressive’s Service Centers, is working with Progressive to provide insurance for each donated vehicle for the first six months.

"The involvement of all of our partners on this project has been fantastic," added Minnick. "Between the NABC, Enterprise, local body shops, 1 800 Charity Cars, local VFWs and other military charities, we've worked together to find and restore vehicles for some great families. We really enjoy using our Service Centers for community events like this."

Keys to Progress is one of the single largest donators of vehicles in the history of the Recycled Rides program.

Recycled Rides began in 2007 with five vehicles donated across the country the entire year.

"So, seeing 59 donated in one event with one insurer just six years later is really outstanding," said Chuck Sulkala, executive director of the National Auto Body Council. "Keys to Progress and other Recycled Rides events are made possible by everyone making the effort to go the extra mile - doing a little more each day to help make life better for those who need a helping hand."

Photo Caption: Top Right Iraq war veteran Kevin Kirby and his wife Angela Vossburg stand by to watch the unveiling of their awarded vehicle from Progressive Insurance during the June 12 Keys to Progress event.


WW11 vET

By Taylor Smith / Reprinted with permission from The Oregonian

It had been almost 71 years since World War II veteran Robert Lance was in Washington D.C. The United States had declared war on Japan and Lance, a 23-year-old pilot, was in charge of flying a colonel to the nation's capital and told wait for two hours or two days until the colonel finished his business.

Last weekend, Lance, now 93, was the one being waited on as one of 50 WW II veterans from Oregon traveling to Washington with the Honor Flight program, an organization that honors WWII veterans with an all-expense-paid trip to the capital.

The group went to 12 sites in Washington, including the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. Each veteran was also presented with a United States flag that was flown over the Capitol.

More than 100,000 WWII veterans have taken a trip with the Honor Flight program, which was launched eight years ago.

Lance said he joined the military as an 18-year-old to protect the nation from foreign invaders and safeguard American freedoms.

Growing up in Corvallis, Lance's family wasn't involved in the military, but he decided to take a series of tests to apply for cadet training in California.

He put his flying dreams on hold to join the Oregon National Guard, where he trained for two weeks at Fort Stevens. The group was asked to train for another two weeks because, as Lance puts it, "Hitler was kicking up a fuss." Lance said he was happy to stay longer. It meant he would make another $14, as the men earned a dollar per day during their training.

When war broke out in Europe, Lance went straight to Stockton, Calif. where he attended cadet training for 10 months. After graduating, Lance said his first assignment was in Fort Lewis, Wash., but he was hoping to be stationed in Hawaii where half of his graduating class went.

"I've realized it was the greatest thing in my life going to Fort Lewis," Lance said. "I missed the attack on Pearl Harbor and I met and married my wife."

During the next few years, Lance served at military bases in upstate New York, Savannah, Ga., and Tampa, Fla., where he was the commander of a P-39 squadron composed of 16 planes and 180 men.

vet in wc

In 1945, Lance was a lieutenant colonel en route to the Philippines as a replacement pilot when the war ended, but that didn't mean his service wasn't needed. When Lance and his squadron arrived, they were directed to do maintenance at Clark Air Base, which included sodding the fields for six weeks and installing a recreation room and library.

"This was just part of my duty," Lance said. "This is something anyone would have done to get the squadron in shape again."

After nearly two years serving in the Philippines, Lance returned to the U.S. and went into the reserves.

With help from the GI Bill, he enrolled in the Optometry School at Pacific University. For nearly 30 years Lance was an optometrist in Hillsboro. He also served as a Hillsboro City Councilor from 1966 to 1974.

Lance said he doesn't talk much about his military days. "People don't normally ask," Lance said. "Most of the people at Avamere (a retirement community where Lance lives) know I was in the military. A lot of them were in the military, too."

Lance said he feels like the community does a good job of recognizing his military service and that he is thankful for the work done by programs like the Bend Heroes Foundation and Honor Flight.

Even though he enjoyed time spent at the museums and speaking with other veterans on his Honor Flight trip, it was the cards sent by a group of middle school students that left the biggest impression.

"It was so great see that appreciation from the kids, to have them say, 'I'm so glad that you represented our country and kept us a free nation.'"

Photo Caption: Above Right Robert Lance, 93, a World War II veteran, and guardian Tim Rosinbum at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.. Above Left Robert Lance, 93, served as a pilot in the United States Military from 1941-46. This is a photo of his cadet group in front of a 0-52 Observation Plane. Lance is in the first row, third from the left.


Pension Poachers

Have you ever gone on vacation and been asked to attend a "free lunch" to hear about purchasing yearly housing opportunities in that location? Veterans and their surviving spouses are being approached in a very similar way.

Across the U.S., financial advisors are hosting seminars in local nursing homes and assisted living facilities in hopes to get a big commission check. The advisors claim they can "help" the senior receive a VA benefit known as Aid & Attendance all for free.

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Richard Burr have introduced a bill in Congress called the "Veterans Pension Protection Act." The bill will create a 36 month look back of financials for all VA benefits to hopefully stop these pension poachers.

Wyden said, "The system is being clogged by pension poachers who are preying on veterans, who are submitting thousands of applications for people for whom this benefit was not intended."

In a 2007 report by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority found issues with 110 securities firms that presented free lunch seminars. Most of the time they are sale presentations and the majority were advertised as "educational."

The report went on to state that 50 percent of these meetings featured misleading advertising; 23 percent involved possibly unsuitable recommendations; and 13 percent appeared to be fraudulent.

They are relying in part on the Federal Trade Commission reports and the findings of an undercover operation by the Government Accountability Office that determined that financial and estate planning professionals are "helping" veterans hide assets so that they can qualify for Aid and Attendance, usually by charging high fees to set up annuities and trusts (as much as $10,000).

The Aid & Attendance benefit is for certain veterans who served during wartime and their spouses. In qualifying for the benefit, a veteran’s assets are considered. Generally, those with assets more than $80,000 are excluded. Deceitful advisors often shape the presentation into "educating" seniors who are too well off to qualify and how to reposition their assets using an annuity in an irrevocable trust in order to meet the benefits threshold.

This benefit was not designed to assist wealthy or even moderately wealthy retirees. The issue is that seniors could jeopardize their chance to qualify for Medicaid if their finances and health deteriorates. In Illinois, Medicaid requires applicants to provide an overview of their assets over a five year period. Purchasing an annuity would be categorized as a nonexempt transfer, and would preclude the veteran or surviving spouse from qualifying for Medicaid benefits.

VA regulations do not allow someone to charge to complete the paperwork for VA benefits. I have heard locally that some advisors are telling seniors that they have a local attorney that will set up the irrevocable trust for only $2,000. The advisors also tell the senior that the do not charge for their help, but do not disclose they get paid from the purchase of the annuity. According to an AARP report on investment fraud, a $500,000 annuity sale could generate a $75,000 commission.

The Aid & Attendance benefit is to assist those veterans who do not have the financial resources to cover their medical or in-home health care needs. If you are looking for help in applying for or appealing a decision on the A&A benefit, avoid people who start talking about annuities and trusts instead of looking at your real income and expenses and assets to see if you legitimately qualify.

The VA has asked if you are approached by any organization to report them to the VA Office of General Counsel at 708-202-2216.



PORTLAND-- The United Service Organization (USO) Northwest will be opening the first USO center in Oregon in more than 60 years. The Port of Portland has generously provided space at Portland International Airport (PDX) for the new center that could open before 2014.

Portland is home to one of the few international airports in the U.S. that does not have a USO center serving the needs of local and traveling active-duty military, military families and veterans. The USO currently operates 183 locations around the world in the U.S., plus Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Italy, Japan, Guam, and South Korea.

"We’re hopeful and very pleased to be able to extend the USO’s world-class care and comforts to local and traveling military, military families and veterans across Oregon and southwest Washington," said Joe Williams, the new center’s senior volunteer.

"People can show their support for our military with a monetary or in-kind contribution, and by encouraging your employees to volunteer for USO Northwest. We have nearly 100 people so far who have showed interest in volunteering."

Williams said the money donated to the USO nationally is not filtered to individual centers such as Portland, but used for programs at the national level along with supporting the centers and programs overseas.

"Donations for the USO Center at PDX must come from direct donations to help fund and operate this center. The estimated start-up cost is estimated at nearly $197,000. We have achieved about half of this amount so far."

A new USO Northwest center at PDX will allow the USO to serve thousands of local military members, their families and veterans including the Oregon National Guard’s 41st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Brigade and 142nd Fighter Wing, the U.S. Army Reserve 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, and area U.S. Coast Guard stations.

The new PDX center will open when USO Northwest has gathered enough volunteers and funding to cover converting the space and for initial operating costs. It will be open daily from approximately 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and staffed by the USO’s all-volunteer "Army of Gratitude."

The center will provide a range of programs and services to include: a lounge, TV and movies, snacks and refreshments, discounts from airport restaurants and vendors, free Wifi access, laptop stations with Skype and email access, writing supplies, calling cards, travel assistance, luggage storage, XBOX 360 System, and a United Through Reading Program.

USO Northwest is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and receives no funding from the government. A retired Army colonel, Williams said there are many ways to make a difference.

"We rely on the generosity of our community—corporate sponsors, businesses, veteran’s services organizations and donations from individuals—to continue our mission," Williams said.

Those interested may donate online by going to www.usonw.org/pdx.php

or mail a check to USONW-PDX, 17801 International Blvd., PMB 313, Seattle, WA 98158. To learn more about volunteering contact Williams at 503-467-9775, or email pdx@usonw.org.

Photo Caption: Above Right The future USO Northwest Center at PDX, set to open in 2014, is shown in this artist's computerized rendering.


Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial & Museum

The memorial wall and museum will be at the Linn County Veterans Memorial in Albany’s Timber Linn Park, 900 Price Road S.E., Aug. 8-11. Opening ceremonies: Aug. 8, at 10 a.m. The reading of Oregon’s more than 800 KIA-MIA: 8 p.m.

Contact: Albany Parks & Rec. Office

Kids Educational Mondays at The Bomber

Register kids ages 8-16 for these fun two-hour mini-camps to learn about Flag History, adventurous stories from America heroes of WWII, and exploring aviation history. All camps are held at The Bomber, 13515 SE McLoughlin Blvd., Milwaukie. Sign-up or request a flyer for more information.

Contact: Terry, 503-654-6491

Contact: Terry, 503-654-6491

Screaming Eagles, 101st Airborne Division Assoc., 71st Reunion

The annual reunion is Aug. 14-17, at Red Lion Hotel, 909 N. Hayden Island Dr., Portland. Hotel reservations: 503-283-4466.

Contact: Jerry Gomes
Oregon Cascade Chapter, 101st ADA
503-668-6127, www.ScreamingEagle.org

Lacey's Lady B-17 Alliance Golf Tourney Fundraiser

Help restore and preserve a Portland icon – B-17 Bomber Lacey's Lady – for a lasting education and in tribute. Help by playing in the B-17 Alliance Golf Tournament, Fri., Sept. 20, at Stone Creek Golf Course, Oregon City. Sign up here: http://wof.gcsmarket.com/images/Golf_brochure.pdf

Contact: Terry, 503-654-6491

Salem Patriot’s Day Parade

Remember Sept. 11, 2001 and display your patriotism by walking in the parade and exercising the Constitutional freedoms which makes America a strong as a nation. Parade begins at 7 p.m., at Campbell Sign Shop, 1865 12th St. SE, in Salem.

Contact: Tom Chereck Jr., 503-585-1291

Living History Days at Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

"Remembering the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor," will be hosted Nov. 4-7, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Meet and hear the histories of Bataan Death March survivors, Native and Mexican-American veterans, Tuskegee Airmen, plus other WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq, Afghanistan and Cold War veterans. Location: 500 Capt. Michael King Smith Way, McMinnville, just off of Hwy. 18.

Contact: Ken Buckles, 503-351-2632

Reynolds High School Hosting Living History Days

The school will again host this event, Nov. 8, from 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., at 1698 SW Cherry Park Rd., Troutdale. Veterans from all eras are invited to attend. Those interested in sharing their stories with students must call ahead.

Contact: Ken Buckles, 503-351-2632

Oregon’s First Spirit of ’45 Day

The event will be held on August 11, 2013 in Willson Park on the Capitol grounds where the new WWII Memorial will be placed in Salem, Oregon at 5pm.

For more information on the Spirit of ’45 go to their national website at www.spiritof45.org or email at OregonSpiritof45@gmail.com. For information on the Oregon WWII Memorial Foundation go to http://oregonwwiimemorial.com/ and for information on the Historical Outreach Foundation, the 501(c)(3) non-profit associated with the Brig. Gen. James B. Thayer Oregon Military Museum go to www.historicaloutreach.com

or call 503-705-5965.



This fall a career and job fair plus six veteran stand downs are being held around Oregon to assist veterans in finding jobs and other essential needs.

Hiring our Heroes Veteran Job Fair being held on Nov. 14, is for veteran job seekers, active duty military members, National Guard and Reserve members, and military spouses.

This free event is a one-of-a-kind hiring fair for both job seekers and employers and will be held at Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 1401 N. Wheeler.

Job seekers are strongly encouraged to pre-register. Walk-ins are welcome, but space is limited. The event is hosted by the Oregon Employment Department, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Department of Labor, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and the American Legion.

For more information and to pre-register visit www.hoh.greatjob.net

Veteran Stand Downs will also be held through October at these locations:

Aug. 16, Coos Bay National Guard Armory, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sept. 13-14, Warrenton, Camp Rilea, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sept. 19, Bend National Guard Armory, 875 SW Simpson; Sept. 27, Salem National Guard Armory, 2320 17th St. N.E., 10 a.m. to 4 pm.; Oct. 19, Gresham, The Chapel, 27132 S.E. Stark St., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Oct. 25, Springfield Regional Sports Center, 200 32nd St., 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For information, contact Tonja Pardo, 503-947-1490, pardo.tonja@dol.gov.



McMINNVILLE -- Six notable aviators and one military aviation artist will be inducted into the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum’s Hall of Honor October 20 at 12 p.m.

Stephen N. Guntli, the director of development for other museums said the following men will be inducted at the annual ceremony: Martin T. Bergen, Charles "Larry" Deibert, Robert G. Emmens, William S. Phillips, Richard VanGrunsven and Ernest P. Wakehouse.

Phillips was well known worldwide for his aviation artistry on canvas. He will become the first artist ever to be enshrined into the museum’s hall.

Bergen flew more than 100 missions in the F-84 Thunderjet on bombing and night interdiction missions in Korea. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and 10 Air Medals. In 1955, Bergen joined the Oregon Air National Guard and flew F-86s. As deputy commander of the 142nd Fighter Interceptor Group, he led the unit’s conversion from the F-101 to the F-4C and brought the group to combat readiness ahead of schedule. With the re-opening of Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Bergen was selected as Alert Detachment Commander there where he represented the Air Force in many community activities.

Bergen retired in 1985 with over 7,000 flying hours and lives in McMinnville.

Retired Major Larry Deibert flew air reconnaissance missions in Vietnam and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for "exceptionally valorous actions" against the enemy in September 1967. After one year in combat, he had flown 570 missions, including 73 over North Vietnam. Diebert also was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Vietnam Crosses for Gallantry, a Bronze Star, two Meritorious Service medals, and 25 other awards.

In 2003, the Hood River native was appointed as the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for the state of Oregon, a position he still holds.

A Medford native and retired Air Force colonel, Emmens was a member of the infamous Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, Japan led by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle on April 18, 1942. He was the co-pilot on crew No. 8. After successfully attacking the target in Japan, mechanical problems caused the B-25 to not have sufficient fuel to reach China. The plane was then flown north and landed near Vladivostok, Russia where the crew was captured and interned, but later escaped.

Emmens earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and Army Air Corps Commendation Medal. After serving 38 years in the Air Force, he retired from the Air Force in 1964 and returned to Medford. Emmens died in 1992.

After completing flight training in 1945, Wakehouse was in a P-51 pilot replacement pool in Florida awaiting overseas duty when World War II ended. Later the Portland car dealer was one of nine pilots from the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Fighter Group to fly combat missions in Korea.

Flying the P-51 from September to December 1951, Wakehouse completed 100 missions in Korea. In May 1952, 1st Lt. Wakehouse was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

VanGrunsven is a well-known aircraft designer and kitplane manufacturer. The number of VanGrunsven-designed homebuilt aircraft produced each year in North America exceeds the combined production of all commercial general aviation companies. In the U.S. Air Force he served as a communications officer for three years. "Van" has earned Chief Flying Instructor, multi-engine, and Airline Transport Pilot ratings and has logged more than 12,000 hours of flight time.

The Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor was established in 2003 by the Oregon State Department of Aviation to recognize outstanding men and women in Oregon aviation. The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum near McMinnville, was designated by the State of Oregon as the official location for the Aviation Hall of Honor.

The museum is located along state highway 18 at 500 NE Capt. Michael King Smith Way. Call no later than October 17 to reserve seating, 503-434-4185.