Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Kelly Fitzpatrick will host a live virtual town hall for Vietnam veterans on Thursday, March 25 at noon via Zoom.

Fitzpatrick will also be joined by a special guest, Renaye Murphy, executive director of the Portland Regional Office of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).

Veterans can register online at oregon.gov.odva/Connect/Pages/Townhalls.aspx.

Questions for Director Fitzpatrick or Director Murphy may be submitted in advance by emailing orvetsbenefits@odva.state.or.us before March 22, according to a news release.

Registration is recommended but not required. Callers and questions will be welcomed on a “first come, first served” basis. Live closed captioning will be available for the video portion of this event. Registrants will receive a link to the virtual event via email.

To call in for the meeting without registering, dial 877-853-5247, and use meeting ID 811 7856 3418. The passcode is 295308.

The live event on March 25 will cover earned benefits and other resources available to Vietnam veterans and their families, including disability compensation, Agent Orange exposure and presumptive diseases, health care and behavioral health services — as well as more recent changes to benefits such as the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019.

Trained and federally accredited veteran service officers and other benefits experts will be on hand to provide direct assistance to participants, including filing a claim for benefits or an appeal if they have been denied previously.

In addition to providing information, the purpose of the event is for the directors of both agencies to hear directly from Vietnam veterans about their experience accessing benefits and challenges they have encountered.

Vietnam veterans are the largest veteran demographic in Oregon by era of service, with more than one-third of the state’s 300,000 veterans having served in the Vietnam War era.

“We at ODVA are grateful for the opportunity to connect with and hear directly from our Vietnam veterans, who are an inspiration to me and so many other veterans,” said Fitzpatrick in a press release. “Sadly, when Vietnam veterans returned home from the battlefields nearly 50 years ago, they did not receive the heroes’ welcome they deserved. But, instead of turning their backs, they committed to the promise that never again would a generation of veterans abandon another, and have emerged as the true leaders of our veteran community today. We hope many Vietnam veterans will join us for this important event, as we work to improve services and outreach for all veterans.”

The event is part of a continuing series of virtual town halls the agency is holding to connect with the statewide veteran community, which began with a Virtual Women Veterans Town Hall that Fitzpatrick hosted in November, and a forum for LGBTQ veterans in December.

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