Oregon Congressman aids homeless veteran

Ongoing work for Oregon’s veterans

News from Congressman Greg Walden

Recently, a homeless veteran from Medford contacted my office regarding a claim he had filed for veterans benefits. My office inquired on his behalf, and the folks at the VA Regional Office in Portland responded quickly — two days after Christmas, we were informed that the veteran’s claim had been approved and that he received a check for retroactive benefits of almost $16,000 and is now being compensated at the rate of $2,040 per month.

Records of military service are vital for our veterans when they attempt to access the benefits they have earned. Sometimes, our veterans encounter difficulty navigating the complex bureaucratic process surrounding a records request. A veteran from Harney County had been struggling with just such a request, despite the best efforts of the County Veterans Service Officer, since April 2011. When my office was contacted in November, I inquired with the National Personnel Records Center on his behalf and I am happy to report that a complete copy of this veteran’s service records was delivered in just over a month. As a result, the veteran now has the evidence needed to file a claim for service-connected disability.

Also, just before the end of the year, my staff helped organize a meeting between central Oregon veterans advocacy groups and VA officials to continue to strengthen relationships in the HUD-VASH Program — that’s the initiative that helps chronically homeless veterans find housing and an opportunity to get their lives back on a positive track. I got involved to help speed the dispersal of housing vouchers after I learned about Delbert Dungan, a homeless veteran from central Oregon who suffered serious burns in an accident in his tent on Christmas day in 2010—about 6 months after he signed up to receive a housing voucher.

The picture is much better now—central Oregon has 50 vouchers for homeless veterans. The VA and community organizations, including the Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, have done good work to give veterans in that area a chance to get a roof over their heads.

We expect the VA to release another round of 10,000 vouchers nationwide, but details are not yet available regarding how many will be awarded to southern, central, and eastern Oregon. I’ll keep you posted.

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