Veterans react to bills passed by Oregon Senate
WHITE CITY, Ore. -- Multiple bills were passed by the Oregon Senate Tuesday, responding to Ballot Measure 96 passing in November.
Measure 96 allocates a portion of lottery proceeds for vets. Under Senate Bill 832 a portion of this will go to the Department of Veterans Affairs in rural areas.
Retired veteran James Calder said he's cautiously optimistic. He said often funding does not lead to action.
"They can't please everyone and they can't serve everyone so it's hard choices. And I don't see anyone making those hard choices. What I see is everyone trying to please everyone," Calder said.
The grant program under Bill 832 plans to make it easier for vets to find health care, benefits, and housing. Kevin Knapp is a former homeless veteran who now works for ACCESS. Knapp said he's seen how these kinds of programs can work.
"We've housed over 500 families in over two years. So the money is getting out there. It's just a matter of having housing to put people in. Right now we have a terrible housing crisis in the area," he said.
But Knapp said he does hope new funding will go toward health services.
"It takes an inordinate amount of time to get services. Yes they do need doctors out there. The doctors seem to come out there and they seem to leave rather quickly," he said.
Senate Bill 143 would create programs to help veterans transition back to civilian life. Calder said this is challenging for those seeking employment and education.
"When I got here I was 100 percent still in combat mode. I've been in combat mode since I had the first person shoot at me when I was 19 years old," he said.
Senate Bill 143 would create resource centers and coordinators across the state to help vets as they plan for the future. The third bill under Measure 96 is Senate Bill 129. This would work with the VA to create a task force to study issues in diagnosing and treating post traumatic stress disorder. All three bills now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.