VA Portland Health Care System (VAPORHCS)
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News Releases
OR Cultural Trust
OR Cultural Trust
Media Advisory - Oregon Poet Laureate Partners with VA for Veterans' Writing Retreat (Photo) - 01/22/19

Media are invited to this event.

Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford partners with VA Portland Health Care System for January 26 Veterans’ writing retreat in Portland.

‘The Stories You Carry” also open to Veteran families and care-givers

(Please note, this event is at capacity for attendees - please do not promote in advance.)

How writing promotes health, healing and happiness will be the focus of an afternoon “The Stories You Carry” writing retreat to be presented by the VA Portland Health Care System (VAPORHCS) and facilitated by Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford ( from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 26. The event is free and open to Veterans, their families and care-givers, the workshop will be held in The Muir Room at Taborspace (5441 SE Belmont) in Portland.

“We are hoping a well-lit problem will begin to heal,” said Stafford, who has taught writing at Lewis & Clark College since 1979. “Whether the question is ‘what’s the matter with you?’ or ‘what matters to you?’ writing is a powerful outlet for sharing our stories and creating connections.”

The afternoon will be spent sharing ideas, experiences and resources for beginning and sustaining a writing practice. Participants will also do some group writing exercises and have a conversation about writing for healing. Representatives from OHSU’s StoryCorps, Write Around Portland and the Art Therapy Program at Lewis & Clark also will participate.

The event could be a one-time conversation or might lead to additional forms of exploration into the world of writing, depending on interests within the group.

The workshop is limited to 40 participants. Those unable to join the first 40 to sign up will be contacted about future writing sessions for Veterans, their care-givers and families.

Stafford also co-founded the Oregon Writing Project in 1984 and co-founded Lewis & Clark’s Northwest Writing Institute in 1986.                                                                                                                                                

Named Oregon’s ninth Poet Laureate in May of 2018, Kim Stafford was born and grew up in Oregon. He is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, and edited half a dozen others. His book, “Having Everything Right: Essays of Place,” won a citation for excellence from the Western States Book Awards in 1986. He holds a Ph.D. in medieval literature from the University of Oregon, and has worked as a printer, photographer, oral historian, editor and visiting writer at a host of colleges and schools, and also offered writing workshops in Italy, Scotland and Bhutan. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and children.

The Oregon Poet Laureate fosters the art of poetry, encourages literacy and learning, addresses central issues relating to humanities and heritage, and reflects on public life in Oregon. Stafford will provide up to 20 public readings per year in settings across the state to inform community, business and state leaders about the value and importance of poetry and creative expression. The program is funded by the Oregon Cultural Trust and administered by Oregon Humanities.

To learn more about the Oregon Poet Laureate program, or to schedule an event with Kim Stafford, visit the Poet Laureate website.


About the Oregon Cultural Trust

The Oregon Cultural Trust is an innovative, statewide private-public program raising significant new funds to support and protect Oregon’s arts, humanities and heritage. In addition to the creation of a permanent endowment, funds are distributed annually through three multifaceted, wide-ranging grant programs. No other state in the nation has a program like the Oregon Cultural Trust, which has been ranked with the bottle bill and the vote-by-mail bill as among Oregon’s most forward-thinking public policy measures. More information at

Attached Media Files: OR Cultural Trust , VAPORHCS
VA Portland Health Care System
VA Portland Health Care System
Preventing Veteran suicide is a top priority for VA Portland -- you can make a difference too (Photo) - 01/22/19

By Darwin G. Goodspeed

Director, VA Portland Health Care System

Preventing Veteran suicide is a top priority for the VA, the VA Portland Health Care System, and it is a national public health issue that affects all Americans. Just as in the general population, there is no single cause of suicide among Veterans. A death by suicide often reflects the complex interaction of risk factors at the individual, community, and societal levels.

Over the last decade, VA has implemented numerous programs, policies, and initiatives related to suicide prevention. Locally, the VAPORHCS Suicide Prevention Team provides timely follow up to any Veteran or loved one who’s called the Veterans Crisis Line – in 2018, the team responded to 1,800 referrals helping Oregon and Southwest Washington Veterans access healthcare, coordinated enhanced mental health care for Veterans at high risk for suicide, and they provided information on VA and community resources for housing, financial, and other social service assistance.

Our Suicide Prevention Team hosts suicide prevention support groups for Veterans at five locations within the VAPORHCS. Any interested Veteran should reach out to the team at 503-402-2857.

Our team also provides more than 10 outreach and training events every month with organizations in the communities we serve.  If your organization is interested in understanding suicide and how to help prevent suicide, please contact our team to set up a training or to attend an outreach event.

Some of the resources VA offers to Veterans, their family members and friends include:

The #BeThere campaign ( — emphasizing that everyday connections can make a big difference to someone going through a difficult time and that individuals don’t need special training to safely talk about suicide risk or show concern for someone in crisis.

Make the Connection ( — providing hopeful stories, information and solutions to issues affecting Veterans.

The Veterans Crisis Line ( — a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text to connect with qualified, caring VA responders. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or text a message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24/7/365. All of us should have this number in our cell phones should a Veteran need support.

We all can make a difference in preventing Veteran suicide.

Thank you for being a part of the solution.

Attached Media Files: VA Portland Health Care System