An Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) Advisory Committee meeting will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 4 at Southwest Oregon Community College Curry Campus in Brookings.

The advisory committee was established in 1945 and advises the director and staff at ODVA. Committee members are military veterans who are appointed by the governor and act as advocates for veteran issues and represent veteran concerns across Oregon.

The advisory committee is informed by the broader veterans’ community they serve. As such, all Oregon veterans, their families and our partners are invited to attend and participate in the quarterly meetings held across the state.

Veterans advocate Connie Hunter plans to advocate for a variety of issues, including support for women veterans and that Oregon determine how it can best partner with the VA in its efforts to implement the VA Mission Act of 2018's Community Care Network for better delivery of services and addressing gaps in care.

Hunter wants to request a feasibility study to determine the economic viability of a Military Sexual Trauma Treatment Center in Brookings.

“The need for such a treatment center is definite,” Hunter said, “as it relates to available service delivery in the United States, however, a feasibility study would provide definitive information that is then the case for grant writing and resource development.”

She also wants the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs to develop a Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) particular to veterans and family members or specific veterans initiatives within the CCO system, and that the state give specific consideration of how the CCO system can participate in the VA Mission Act of 2018's implementation in regions where the VA is seeking to:

•Award contracts to third-party administrators to manage regions of VA’s new Community Care Network;

•Plan to implement veterans care agreements to allow VA to purchase hospital care, medical services, or extended care services in certain situations

•Develop a task force to address community-based mental health providers' needs in support of veterans and their family members.

“I’m not sure that the VA and community mental health providers have ever sat down together to work on a strategic plan of any kind, let alone a strategic plan that would include the VA in its planning relative to the implementation of the new Community Care Network,” Hunter said. “Under these circumstances, the left hand (VA) and the right hand (OHA, CCO's, local providers) don't know what the other is doing. (Also), collaboration within the continuum of care is factored out rather than factored in. We need that dynamic to change under the guidance of a task force.”

•Request that the state provide workforce development funding for peer support specialists' training of veterans and family members to supplement both local providers and VA's efforts with Peer Support Services to create jobs;

•Request that the state provide workforce development funding for Curry Campus' nursing school to add or include holistic nurses certifications for nursing students.

“A holistic nurses certification would make our nursing students more attractive to the VA and more likely to be hired because of the VA's mission to provide whole health support for veterans, as provided in the Mission Act of 2018,” Hunter said.

•That ODVA's Veterans Advisory Committee support of House Bill 2530 and consider naming a Curry County resident to that housing-related task force.

•Request that a Regional Solutions economist be assigned to help develop reports for the ODVA staff for women veterans and an acknowledgement by ODVA that without a specific request for data/reports, that information simply isn't available or cannot be compiled in any reasonable timeline; and,

•With regards to public housing authorities, the state should mandate that data be collected and reports compiled to satisfy the detailed, particular data needs to compile meaningful reports by identifying how many women veterans are using HUD/VASH, how many applications have been approved and denied and why; low-income housing available to women veterans; and the number of women veterans who are homeless or facing housing instability.