REP. JULIE PARRISH &
CLACKAMAS COUNTY COMMISSIONER MARTHA SCHRADER
LAUNCH BOLD INITIATIVE TO SERVE OREGON VETERANS
Salem, Oregon - Representative Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) and Clackamas County Commissioner Martha Schrader have joined forces again to work towards serving the needs of Oregon veterans and their families. For nearly two years, Parrish and Schrader have served as the Oregon co-chairs for the Military Child Education Coalition, an effort to connect communities to resources to help service-connected children in their area. Now they’ve launched a campaign called “Keeping Our Promise” with the goal to refer to voters a ballot measure that would dedicate five percent of the net proceeds of the Lottery to veterans programs and services.
“It’s time we fully fund the programs our veterans need and welcome them home properly,” said Schrader, a former state senator who used to chair the Senate Veterans Affairs committee. Schrader has taken an active role in advocating for better mental health and housing services, just two of the areas of concern the ballot referral, if passed, will address. “The funds this ballot measure would generate will serve all veterans of all eras,” Schrader stated. “But it’s clear that multiple deployments for soldiers in the post-9/11 wars are taking a toll and the spike in mental health needs is tremendous. We can only imagine the need 40 years from now and this is a good first step to planning the future for these servicemen and women.”
The five percent net proceeds will cover things like housing for homeless veterans, healthcare, including mental health, employment and education programs, and reintegration needs of soldiers returning from deployments. It also provides for county and campus veterans’ service officers whose job is to connect veterans with resources related to helping them access their veterans’ benefits.
“Dedicated funding for these types of programs gives us a chance to properly care for our veterans and open up the state for opportunities to draw federal dollars down to Oregon. It also lets us allocate money to nonprofits with a veterans’ mission,” said Parrish, the wife of a two-time Iraq war veteran who retired from the Oregon National Guard last year. Parrish also serves as a vice-chair of the House Veterans Affairs committee. Parrish says one reason Oregon doesn’t draw down these funds in a meaningful way is because we don’t have a military base in Oregon.
HJR 29 has garnered 41 sponsors from the House chamber and 19 sponsors from the Senate chamber. Even with two-thirds of the Legislature sponsored onto the bill, Parrish and Schrader aren’t taking any chances that the bill gets lost in session politics. They’ve also launched the bill as a signature gathering initiative with the Secretary of State’s office. “Veterans issues should never be a partisan issue,” said Schrader, a Democrat. Parrish agrees. “It’s too important for us not to get this measure to the voters for a vote in 2014,” she said. “I believe our legislative body has an obligation to refer this to the ballot for a vote of the people, but we’ll rally veterans to gather signatures if we can’t get this bill passed.”
Schrader notes the upcoming deployment of the 41st Enhanced Infantry Brigade to Afghanistan next year as a catalyst for this measure. “When they come home, we need to be ready to keep our promises to them,” Schrader stated. Parrish said that voters approved a fifteen percent dedication of the lottery funds to parks and native wildlife, three times what she and Schrader are asking for as an allocation for Oregon’s roughly 375,000 veterans. “We’re asking for less than we spend on fish. I think Oregonians would agree this is the right thing to do.”
For more information, contact Rep. Julie Parrish or Commissioner Martha Schrader.