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Rep. Chavez-DeRemer hears veterans’ concerns at Bend policy panel; November opponent Bynum offers reaction

(Update: adding video, comment from veterans, Rep. Chavez-Deremer, challenger Janelle Bynum)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ). -- Rep. Lori Chavez-Deremer, R-Ore., was in Bend on Tuesday, talking with veterans about the issues they face and what they want and need from the federal government.

Chavez-DeRemer hosted a veterans policy panel at the Bend Elks Lodge, bringing staff from the House Veterans Affairs Committee for the meeting with area veterans.

Veterans had the chance to express concerns about the Department of Veterans Affairs and ask questions of the congresswoman and committee staff. The intended purpose was to bridge a communication gap and clarify the concerns of veterans.

Chavez-DeRemer noted that she recently supported legislation that increased funding for the VA and passed the HOME Act to assist veterans experiencing homelessness.

But the veterans' frustrations were evident.

Vietnam veteran James 'Bill' Gabriel said, "We need to get a voice out there in the community - and a lot of people talk in circles."

James Russell Carmean said, "We are looking for efficiency, and we're looking for continuity, and we need responsiveness."

Chavez-DeRemer heard from veterans frustrated with their health care benefits, lack of providers, and long wait times.

"This is a veterans issue that all Americans deserve, if they served their country, and it's congressional leaders, as legislators, we need to make sure that the policies are put in place," she said.

One of the biggest problems Chavez-DeRemer says veterans are running into is a familiar one: government red tape. She wants it all less complicated, so that quality of life can go up for veterans. 

"It's bureaucracy, bureaucracy, bureaucracy," Chavez-DeRemer said. "I want to make sure that we're peeling that back - less red tape, the less regulatory framework we have about it that's constricting."

Many veterans were thankful Chavez-DeRemer took time to listen them. They said they hope that can translate to real change. 

Carmean said, "The biggest thing about coming to an event like this is getting have one-on-one contact with your congressman, because it gives you an opportunity to talk to them and to feel like you're actually heard."

Chavez-DeRemer's opponent in a November election that will be closely watched nationally, Democrat Janelle Bynum, dismissed the veterans event, telling NewsChannel 21 it was all basically a campaign stunt. 

"What she's doing is hogwash, malarkey, window-dressing," Bynum said. "What she's doing is trying to make up for the fact that she knows I'm on her tail, and that our office has always been known for constituent services."

Bynum said she wants to create more opportunities for our solders when they are back home.     

"I've been a champion for making sure that we have housing, that we have educational opportunities for returning veterans, and that we make life returning to civilian life as simple as possible," Bynum said.

Veterans shared with NewsChannel 21 they are hurt by the false promises of policymakers and are not afraid to take to the polls to show their frustration.

Gabriel said, "I told Lori, 'If you guys don't handle our problems, we will vote you out - and vote everybody out. Republican, Democrat, independent - it doesn't matter. If we find out you're hurting the veterans, you can say bye-bye to office."

Of the 25 individuals in attendance, about 10 shared issues impacting them. Chavez-DeRemer 's goal is to take the message of Oregon veterans back to Washington.

Article Topic Follows: War-Military

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Matthew Draxton

Matthew Draxton is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Matthew here.


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