Honoring Our Veterans


Senator Floyd Prozanski
South Lane and North Douglas Counties
District 4

900 Court St. NE, S-417, Salem Oregon 97301
Capitol phone: 503-986-1704
Email: sen.floydprozanski@state.or.us
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/prozanski
e-Bulletin                     Veterans Day 2015

If you're having trouble viewing this message, please visit my legislative web page at http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/prozanski, click on "News" in the lower left-hand column and scroll down.

Dear friends,

    To all our service men and women and their families who have sacrificed to serve our country, I say: Thank you. There are over 300,000 veterans that call Oregon home. They are our friends, family, neighbors and coworkers. I believe that Oregon has a responsibility to support our servicemembers and their families, especially as they return home and prepare to enter the workforce. I'm proud to say that during the 2015 legislative session, my colleagues and I passed a number of bills to support our veterans and their families. These bills are listed below.

    We've accomplished a lot, but there' s always more to do. Please consider
volunteering at local VA centers, which always need volunteer drivers and office volunteers to help veterans.

    For more information about veterans programs, resources, and stories here in Oregon, please see the Veterans' Affairs Advisory Committee's "We Are Oregon Veterans: 2015 Annual Report to the Governor." To view the latest version of Oregon Vets News, click here (a publication of the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs).  

        Below you will find information on:

        - 2015 Session: Supporting Veterans
        - Area Veterans Day Events

    Thank you for joining me in honoring our veterans and their service to our country. As always, feel free to share your comments, questions or concerns with me by phone, mail or e-mail.

                                                                           Sen. Prozanski signature

2015 Session: Supporting Veterans

    Our veterans have made many sacrifices serving our country. These new laws help us honor their service by providing them greater opportunities and resources:

Senate Bills
    SB 89 - Local Assistance for Veterans: Many local communities in Oregon rely on volunteers who assist and advocate for veterans. This valuable volunteer service is offered differently from one locality to the next, sometimes in conjunction with County Veterans Service Officers. SB 89 allows counties and the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs (ODVA) to appoint qualified, vetted volunteers to provide specified support services. This bill will improve supports for veterans across the state, especially in rural Oregon.

    SB 253 - Confidentiality for Veterans: This legislation allows veterans, active-duty, reserve and National Guard members of the armed forces to be exempt from having certain personally identifiable and contact information subject to public records requests. The bill will assist ODVA in protecting the information of people accessing their services, helping to foster trust between veterans and the department.

    SB 494 - Helping Deployed Servicemembers Keep Valid ID: Current law in Oregon requires a valid photograph for renewals or replacements of an Oregon driver license, with only two exceptions for facial disfigurement and religious objection. SB 494 adds a third exception, for servicemembers stationed outside of Oregon while serving in the armed forces. Some servicemembers have reported difficulty with renewing their license while deployed, if a photo on file with the State is too old to be considered valid. This bill will allow servicemembers to maintain valid home state identification, even when they are not able to renew or replace a license in person in Oregon.

    SB 946 - First-in-Nation LGBT Veterans Coordinator: Current law generally bars persons who have been dishonorably discharged from military service from receiving a variety of federal and state benefits. Historically, under the armed forces "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, servicemembers have been dishonorably discharged based solely on sexual orientation. This policy was abolished in 2011, but many veterans' discharge statuses has not been changed, despite the end of the policy. It's estimated that as many as 15,000 veterans in Oregon could potentially fall into this category and, as a result, are denied benefits that they may otherwise have earned. SB 946 rights this injustice for Oregon's veterans, and creates the position of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender coordinator at ODVA. This staff member will be tasked with conducting outreach, assisting veterans in seeking review and appeal of their discharge status, and helping them file access other benefits that may be available.

House Bills
    HB 2230 - Connecting Veterans to Services: Of the more than 300,000 veterans living in Oregon, there are an estimated 100,000 who don't receive benefits but could be eligible if they could be identified and contacted. Over the past three years, the Legislature has worked to streamline information sharing across state agencies to better serve veterans, building a "no wrong door" system to improve veterans' access to benefits. HB 2230 expands this policy by requiring the Oregon Health Authority to ask about the veteran status of individuals seeking services and, with their permission, sharing their contact information with ODVA.

    HB 2539 - Study on Health Services for Women Veterans: In 2009, the Legislature passed a bill to form the Task Force on Women Veterans Health Care to study the health care needs of female veterans, including but not limited to mental health, inpatient treatment, appropriate care within state and federal systems, and identifying gaps in services key to successfully treating female veterans. The task force submitted their findings in October of 2010. HB 2539 builds on their work and directs ODVA to contract for a statewide study on what kinds of medical services are available to women veterans, where, how, and when women use them, and the barriers to access across the state. The study will include recommendations for legislative changes to improve the system, and must be submitted to the Legislature by November 1, 2016.

    HB 2645 - Supporting Veterans in Higher Education: This legislation requires Oregon's public universities — and allows community colleges — to give eligible service members and their dependents enrollment priority over other students. Many eligible veterans receive Post-9/11 G.I. Bill education benefits which help cover the cost of tuition for 36 months and provide a housing stipend for enrolled students. HB 2645 will help ensure that veterans can get the most from the benefits available to them by increasing opportunities to participate in higher education.
    HB 2670 - In-State Tuition for Humanitarian Volunteers, Service Members: This legislation extends in-state tuition rates to students who have left Oregon for a period of time to serve, whether military service or service with humanitarian aid organizations like Doctors Without Borders or the Peace Corps. Some students struggle to meet residency requirements after relocating from Oregon for a service-related purpose, and the inability to receive in-state tuition may deter these individuals from pursuing higher education in the state. HB 2670 supports these students who have returned to Oregon within five years of serving and haven'’t established residency elsewhere.
    HB 2763 Military Families' Pay Equity: Currently, public employees are entitled to a leave of absence for periods of active duty. However, state law requires that such leaves must be provided without pay, even though active duty pay may be substantially lower than public employee pay. HB 2763 removes the prohibition on compensating these employees and will allow public employers to make up the difference in pay for workers — like firefighters, police officers, and sheriffs across Oregon — so they can continue to support themselves and their families financially while serving a period of active duty.
    HB 3303 - Supporting Businesses Run by Injured Veterans: Oregon already certifies businesses as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, Minority/Women Business Enterprises, and Emerging Small Businesses, providing special contracting advantages to these types of businesses. HB 3303 adds service-injured veteran owned businesses to this program, supporting businesses run by veterans who have served and sacrificed.
    HB 3479 - An Oregon Women Veterans Coordinator: Women are the fastest-growing military population, with 28,483 self-identified women veterans currently in Oregon. In the next 30 years, women are expected to make up almost one-fifth of the veteran population in the U.S. Despite this growing population of veterans, women veterans access VA benefits at a much lower rate than their male counterparts. To address this issue, HB 3479 creates the position of a Women Veterans Coordinator at ODVA. This position will help women veterans and their families apply for and access benefits they are entitled to, create and distribute information targeted for women veterans and their families, and help women veterans through the appeals process if a denial of benefits occurs.

Area Veterans Day Events

    Communities throughout Oregon will once again host ceremonies, parades, and special gatherings to honor America's military veterans and commemorate Veterans Day, celebrated on the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

    For a listing of events far and wide, click here.
    If you feel like making the trip to Salem, at 3pm on November 11, ODVA will hold its annual ceremony at the Afghan-Iraqi Freedom Memorial on the agency's grounds (700 Summer St. NE). The names of 142 Oregonians killed while serving in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and those with Oregon military ties, will be read aloud.

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