On February 9th, 2016 the Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee of Ways and Means voted to recommend approval of a federal grant application by the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs to the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs in the amount of $50,000 each for Harney and Lake counties. These grants will help pay for medical-related transportation of veterans. Similar federal transportation grants have already been awarded to Baker, Gilliam, Grant, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Wallowa and Wheeler counties. No state or local matching funds are required and no additional positions are needed by the ODVA to administer the grant. The Highly Rural Transportation Grants (HRTG) is a grant-based U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs program that helps veterans in highly rural areas travel to VA or VA-authorized health care facilities. HRTG provides transportation programs in counties with fewer than seven people per square mile. There is no cost to participate in the program for veterans.
AOC Working with Senator Wyden’s Office to Resolve Drill Pay Issue for Oregon Guard Members
About six months ago, AOC heard from the Wasco County CVSO that Oregon Guard soldiers who receive VA disability compensation often face hardships because disability compensation payments are not authorized when they are activated for Guard Duty. The VA will nonetheless continue making normal payments during Guard activation periods and then only later “claws back” these payments from veterans with no option for payments over an extended period. This often results in financial hardship as veterans. AOC’s Veterans Steering Committee approached staff in Senator Wyden’s office and learned that they had heard similar concerns from veterans. This conversation helped lead to the following letter from Senator Wyden to the Secretary of the VA to address this problem.