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News Releases
ODVA logo
ODVA logo
New grants fund key veteran service projects across the state (Photo) - 04/18/18

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs this week awarded grants totaling more than half a million dollars to fund key projects that will improve veterans’ access to transportation, housing, health care and other vital services across the state.

The grants are funded through the Veteran Services Grant Fund, a new program established by the Legislature during the 2017 session. Based on the funding available, the evaluation committee selected 10 outstanding proposals from nonprofit, governmental and community organizations that are already providing significant and much-needed services to Oregon veterans and their families.

“Our partners are our greatest asset,” said Mitch Sparks, ODVA acting director. “They are doing amazing and innovative work to ensure all of our veterans have access to the care and benefits they deserve, and we are thrilled to be able to support and expand that work.”

The response to this new grant program was remarkable, as a total of 59 grant proposals were submitted, with requests in excess of $5.3 million — almost 10 times the amount of funding available.

Sparks said the response clearly highlights the large community of organizations who are doing important work for veterans statewide, as well as the many critical needs that still exist.

“This is a starting point,” Sparks said. “Through this process, we now have first-hand information that details the gaps in local services, with proposed solutions directly from the providers in those areas. We will be sharing this information with our legislative partners, and we are hopeful this program will be renewed for another round of funding.”

The Veteran Services Grant Fund receives funding from Lottery revenues, as authorized by Measure 96, which Oregon voters approved overwhelmingly in 2016. ODVA and its partners in the veteran community are grateful for the continued support and bipartisan leadership of Gov. Kate Brown, the Legislature and citizens across the state.

The complete list of grant awardees and their projects may be found here: www.oregon.gov/odva/Connect/Documents/Grants/2017-Veteran-Services-Grant/VeteranServicesGrantRecipients.pdf.

Attached Media Files: ODVA logo
Mitch Sparks
Mitch Sparks
Though wounds still linger, Vietnam veterans have earned our nation's honor and gratitude (Photo) - 03/26/18

[The following message by Mitch Sparks, director of the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs, is being offered to Oregon media this week to assist in your coverage of National Vietnam War Veterans Day (March 29). Thank you, and please contact the ODVA communications team if you need any additional support.]

Forty-five years ago today [March 29], combat and combat support units withdrew from South Vietnam. This marked the beginning of the end of nearly two decades of direct U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia, but the social, cultural and psychological wounds of the Vietnam War still linger for those Americans who lived through it, and especially for the veterans who served during this turbulent time in our nation's history.

There are over 120,000 Vietnam-era veterans living in Oregon today, representing more than a third of our total veteran population. They represent the largest single demographic and the true leaders in our veteran community today.

And yet, too often and in too many ways, our Vietnam-era veterans remain invisible to the general public. Their incredible courage and remarkable achievements, both in Southeast Asia and here at home, too often go unrecognized. Their unique challenges and adversities too often go unacknowledged.

Young men and women returning from their service in Vietnam were not welcomed home. They were shunned and ignored. They were not allowed to take their rightful place among America's heroes. They came home, not to the soldier's rest that they deserved, but to a new battlefield, one in which they would be forced to struggle for the respect and recognition they had rightfully earned.

It has taken generations for the fruits of their labor to be known, but today we stand as a proud and grateful nation, humbled by the valor and sacrifice of those who answered their nation's call--including the 58,000 U.S. service members who went to Vietnam and never came home.

They did not make the decision to go to war; they went because their country asked them to. They kept the faith. They represented the best the United States of America had to offer and they fought for freedom, the mark of a true patriot. They put their lives on the line to help and save others.

We stand together to say now, what we should have done 45 years ago: "Thank you, and welcome home."

Mitch Sparks is a retired Navy veteran and director of the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Attached Media Files: Mitch Sparks