This article appears in the February 15, 2018, edition of the Marion County TODAY e-newsletter.
As part of a partnership between Marion County, Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA), and Mid-Valley Community Action Agency, veterans living in Marion County will soon be served by a new dedicated veteran service program. In 2016, there were 24,148 veterans living in Marion County. The Veteran Services Officers (VSO) will provide benefits counseling, as well as represent and advocate for veterans, their dependents, and survivors in obtaining benefits for which they are entitled.
Community Action has been serving homeless veterans in Marion County for many years through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families, the Oregon Health Authority's veteran's rental assistance program, and other programs. Adding VSOs will help the organization build on current services, as well as extend services to additional area veterans. Jimmy Jones, Community Action's Director of the ARCHES Project, said, "It's an honor, privilege, and tremendous responsibility to serve our local veterans. We are grateful to Marion County for entrusting us with this work."
Marion County, through Community Action, can expect to serve about 3,000 veterans and their dependents each year. As services transition from ODVA, VSOs are receiving comprehensive training in navigating the federal VA process to ensure claims are submitted accurately and efficiently. There are no fees to the veteran for services. The program will be co-located with Community Action's ARCHES Project at 615 Commercial Street, NE in Salem, and is expected to open in April 2018.