Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs
Emergency Messages as of 9:08 am, Thu. May. 25
No information currently posted. Operating as usual.
Subscribe to receive FlashAlert messages from Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs. Please use any browser other than Internet Explorer.
Primary email address for a new account:

Emergency Alerts News Releases  
And/or follow our FlashAlerts via Twitter

About FlashAlert on Twitter:

FlashAlert utilizes the free service Twitter to distribute emergency text messages. While you are welcome to register your cell phone text message address directly into the FlashAlert system, we recommend that you simply "follow" the FlashAlert account for Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs by clicking on the link below and logging in to (or creating) your free Twitter account. Twitter sends messages out exceptionally fast thanks to arrangements they have made with the cell phone companies.

Click here to add Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs to your Twitter account or create one.

Hide this Message


Manage my existing Subscription

News Releases
Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith
Memorial Day: A tradition rooted in courage, honor, sacrifice (Photo) - 05/23/17

Note: The following is a special Memorial Day message from Cameron Smith, director of the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Memorial Day is a holiday rooted in tradition. Every year, thousands of Oregonians participate in ceremonies, parades and other solemn events. But long before the first Memorial Day processions wound their way down city streets, long before dignitaries across the country took to podiums to honor service and sacrifice, the holiday started, informally, with a much simpler tradition: the laying of flowers upon the grave of a fallen service member.

It was in the wake of the American Civil War that communities began the practice of decorating soldiers' graves with flowers. This military family and community tradition was later formalized as a national day of honor in Decoration Day, and what we now call Memorial Day.

In 1866, no family or community was untouched by the Civil War. America's bloodiest conflict resulted in over 1 million casualties and claimed over 620,000 lives. The impacts of the war were intensely and personally felt across the nation.

Today, over 320,000 veterans call Oregon home. We are a strong and diverse community, spanning four generations across five major wars. With every veteran counted, we must also recognize the sacrifice of their spouses and families, who served on the home front while their loved ones were in uniform.

At the same time, we must acknowledge that today's battles are fought by less than 1 percent of our population. The weight of the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has been borne by the few. Most of our citizens today have not been directly impacted by war. The same cannot be said for our Gold Star families, who have lost a loved one in service to our nation.

We can never forget the true cost of war -- a cost far beyond dollars and cents. A hundred years ago, in World War I, we lost over 115,000 dedicated service members -- almost 1,000 of whom were from Oregon. Those who survived the battlefields in Europe did not come home to a robust system of veterans' health care and benefits. But they banded together in service organizations and fought to advocate for the nationwide network of support we have today.

Across the ages, from the beaches of Normandy and the Pacific islands to the mountains and jungles in Asia, countless Americans have stood up to serve and have laid down their lives. At the most basic level, they fought to protect the one on their right and the one on their left, but ultimately their fight protects us all and preserves the values we hold dear.

This Memorial Day, as we kick off the start of summer and turn to enjoy Oregon's incredible parks, beaches, rivers and mountains, we must encourage all citizens to pause and honor our fallen and Gold Star families. We stand on the shoulders of all those who came before us and will never forget our veterans' service, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Thank you for your support of Oregon's military, veterans and their families!

Cameron Smith served three tours in Iraq as a Marine and is the director of the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Attached Media Files: Cameron Smith
Listing of statewide Memorial Day events now available online - 05/22/17

Want to know what Memorial Day events are being held in your area? There's a good chance you can find out online, in the directory of Memorial Day ceremonies, parades and other special events that the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs maintains at www.oregondva.com/2017memorialday.

The directory includes an interactive map as well as detailed information about each event. If you don't see your event listed, it's not too late to share! Please visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/eventsubmissions and complete the brief questionnaire. Contact the ODVA communications team with any questions at 503-373-2389.

ODVA's annual Statewide Memorial Day Celebration will take place at 2 p.m., May 29, at the Afghan-Iraqi Freedom Memorial in Salem. The memorial, which is dedicated to the men and women who died while serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is located near ODVA's offices at 700 Summer St. N.E.

The program will include a color guard presentation by Western Oregon University's Army ROTC cadets, singing of the national anthem, the playing of "Taps" and a reading of the 142 names of the Oregonians killed in Iraq and Aghanistan, which are inscribed on a granite wall at the memorial.

A keynote address will be given by Wendall Pelham, whose son, Army Spc. John Pelham, was killed on Feb. 12, 2014, while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom. At this time, Spc. Pelham was the last Oregonian killed in action in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

In recognition of the 100th anniversary this year of the United States' entry into World War I, speakers will wear poppies and the poem "In Flanders Field" will be read by retired Air Force Maj. Hank Lutz, a great-grandson of WWI hero and Medal of Honor recipient Edward C. Allworth.

Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs Advisory Committee to meet June 7 - 05/10/17

The next meeting of the Advisory Committee to the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs will be held from 9:30 a.m. to noon June 7 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4108, 1836 S.W. Veterans Way in Redmond. The public is invited to attend and participate.

The committee is made up of veterans appointed by the governor to provide counsel on veteran issues and represent veteran concerns across Oregon. Its nine members serve in a vital advisory role to the director and staff of the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs.

The advisory committee's meetings are held throughout the state on the first Wednesday in March, June, September and December. Registration is encouraged, but not required. If you plan on attending, please RSVP online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/5SVMG9F.

More information can be found online at www.oregon.gov/odva/Pages/advisory.aspx or to contact the Advisory Committee, please email vaac@odva.state.or.us.

###