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First Tribal Veteran Service Office Established in Warm Springs

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) this week that will enable the tribal government to establish the state’s first-ever tribal veteran service office.
Once established, the tribal veteran service office will operate similar to a county veteran service office, providing direct services to tribal veterans under ODVA’s power of attorney. Like all county veteran service officers, the tribal veteran service officers will be trained and certified through ODVA.
“This MOU will enable veterans to receive increased access to services and benefits on the reservation by trusted tribal representatives who are more culturally sensitive,”
This is the first state-tribal partnership of this kind in Oregon’s history.
“This is something we’ve been working toward for many years,” ODVA Acting Director Mitch Sparks said. “The reason we have veteran service offices in each county is that we recognize each county has their own unique challenges, resources, and culture, and we believe veterans are best served in and through their own communities. The same is true, and even more so, for our tribal veterans.
“We believe this new partnership will allow tribal veteran service officers in Warm Springs to provide the same level of service as any county veteran service officer while advocating for their own people.”
Terry Bentley, Pacific District tribal government specialist with the VA Office of Tribal Government Relations, said her agency was excited about the new partnership.
“This MOU will enable veterans to receive increased access to services and benefits on the reservation by trusted tribal representatives who are more culturally sensitive,” she said.
The announcement was also well-received by Oregon’s elected officials.
“As the daughter of a veteran, I know first-hand how critical the needs are for our service men and women, and their families,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said. “I am absolutely thrilled about this new partnership that ensures the veterans of the Warm Springs Tribe will be able to access the vital services and benefits they’ve earned.”
“The memorandum of understanding represents a major accomplishment for veterans everywhere,” said Rep. Paul Evans, chair of the House Interim Committee on Veterans and Emergency Preparedness. “This approach will be the first of what I hope will be many such partnerships empowering tribal veteran service officers and yielding tremendous benefit to Native American military families and veterans.”

VA and U.S. Digital Service Launch New Web Tool to Help Veterans Track their Benefits Appeals

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S Digital Service announced their launch of an improved Appeals Status tool to increase transparency and enable Veterans to track the progress of their benefits claims appeals.

“It’s important that our Veterans have the opportunity to track their appeals process in a timely and efficient manner,” said VA Secretary David Shulkin. “For the first time ever, Veterans can see their place on the Board of Veterans’ Appeals’ docket, including the number of appeals that are ahead of them.”

The tool, which went live March 21 on VA’s Vets.gov website, will allow Veterans to access detailed information about the status of their benefits appeals and will include alerts about needed actions, as well as estimates of how long each step of the process takes.

Some Veterans who have previewed the new tool said it had given them hope and helped them understand that the process might take longer than expected.

Oregon veteran who secured first military headstone for same-sex spouse dies at 71

It’s been five years since retired Air Force Lt. Col. Linda Campbell buried the ashes of her wife, Nancy Lynchild, at Willamette National Cemetery just southeast of Portland.
It was just after the military dropped the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy” that prohibited its gay, lesbian and bisexual members from serving openly but before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right.

And it was the first time a U.S. veteran had secured a burial plot for her same-sex spouse at a military cemetery.
Soon, Linda will join Lynchild in the plot she lobbied the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to grant her partner of 22 years. The Air Force veteran has died at 71, according to a Campbell family release.  Read more at OregonLive