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Oregon VA to host Vietnam veterans virtual town hall

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Kelly Fitzpatrick will host a live virtual town hall for Vietnam veterans on Thursday, March 25 at noon via Zoom.

Vietnam veterans are the largest veteran demographic in Oregon by era of service, with more than one-third of the state’s 300,000 veterans having served in the Vietnam War era. 

The virtual event will cover earned benefits and other resources available to Vietnam veterans and their families, including disability compensation, Agent Orange exposure and presumptive diseases, health care and behavioral health services — as well as more recent changes to benefits such as the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019.

Trained and federally accredited Veteran Service Officers and other benefits experts will be on hand to provide direct assistance to participants, including filing a claim for benefits or an appeal if they have been denied previously.

Fitzpatrick will also be joined by a special guest, Renaye Murphy, Executive Director of the Portland Regional Office of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). As executive Director, ds. Murphy is responsible for administering over $130 million per month in compensation and pension benefits to approximately 97,289 Veterans, dependents and their survivors living in Alaska and Oregon.

In addition to providing information, the purpose of the event is for the directors of both agencies to hear directly from Vietnam veterans about their experience accessing benefits and challenges they have encountered.

“We at ODVA are grateful for the opportunity to connect with and hear directly from our Vietnam veterans, who are an inspiration to me and so many other veterans,” said Fitzpatrick. “Sadly, when Vietnam veterans returned home from the battlefields nearly 50 years ago, they did not receive the heroes’ welcome they deserved.

"But, instead of turning their backs, they committed to the promise that never again would a generation of veterans abandon another, and have emerged as the true leaders of our veteran community today. We hope many Vietnam veterans will join us for this important event, as we work to improve services and outreach for all veterans.”

The event is part of a continuing series of virtual town halls the agency is holding to connect with the statewide veteran community, which began with a Virtual Women Veterans Town Hall that Fitzpatrick hosted in November, and a forum for LGBTQ veterans in December. 

The Virtual Vietnam Veterans Town Hall will be held at noon (PST) Thursday, March 25, via Zoom. You may register online at oregon.gov.odva/Connect/Pages/Townhalls.aspx. Submit questions for Director Fitzpatrick or Director Murphy in advance by emailing orvetsbenefits@odva.state.or.us before March 22.

Registration is recommended but not required. Callers and questions will be welcomed on a “first come, first served” basis. Live closed captioning will be available for the video portion of this event. If you register, a link to the virtual event will be sent to your email. 

To call in for the meeting without registering, dial 877-853-5247, and use meeting ID 811 7856 3418. The passcode is 295308.

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