According to Tom Mann, public information manager for the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, there are numerous ways veterans can get help when they return from duty.
Finding a job, receiving medical benefits and continuing education are all services veterans getting back from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan can tap into.
“All vets are processed by a reintegration team,” Mann said. “It’s a National Guard program that serves all branches of the service.”
The team provides discription of benefits and counseling and can help get a returning veteran off on the right foot. Mann said it’s a first step to specific programs.
Employment is high on the list of many vets. Mann said the current economy has made unemployment rates grow among returning vets though specific numbers are hard to pin down.
“When the 41st Brigade returned from Iraq, they had 54 percent unemployment,” Mann said. “We can get them plugged into services that help with job searches.”
He said representatives in every Oregon county serve the program, which partners with different agencies, including the state employment department and human services.
The Disabled Veteran Outreach Program is a resource that tailors searches based on a veteran’s limitations. Up to 17 percent of service members nationwide return with some form of post traumatic stress disorder, according to Mann, and many don’t bother to report problems.
“A lot subscribe to the warrior culture. They are trained to ignore pain and not complain,” he said. “They need to contact us. We can offer services that help.”
He added that searches are adapted to an individual’s skills, background and education. Additionally there is a resource of employers who specifically reach out to veterans.
Additional resources can link returning veterans with available medical benefits and education. Mann said the new G.I. Bill can provide a living stipend while veterans retrain.
For a complete list of veteran services, contact the Oregon Department of Veteran’s Affairs at 503-373-2000 or oregon.gov/ODVA/BENEFITS/statebenefits.shtml.