City & Government, Creswell

Creswell VFW talks to Congress

The Oregon VFW delegation met with U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Ore4). From the left are Bob Beck, commander of Creswell VFW Post 4039; Valery Wrinkle, Redmond VFW Auxiliary; John Wrinkle, Redmond VFW and Oregon senior vice commander; Rep. DeFazio; Rick Higgins, Creswell VFW and Oregon state commander; Jackie Key, Sandy VFW Auxiliary; Kathy Lundeen, Fern Ridge VFW; Bert Key, Sandy VFW and Oregon National VFW council member; and George Carroll, of Molalla VFW and Oregon junior vice commander.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) held a national conference in Washington DC this month to discuss the priority goals of the organization, in which each state’s delegates met with their members of the United States Congress.
This conference gave Creswell the opportunity to give personal input on one or more priorities at small, personal gatherings with each congressmen, Creswell VFW Commander Bob Beck said.
Beck said the main priority noted at the conference was a push for the Blue Water Bill, which would expand veteran affairs benefits for Navy personnel who were exposed to, or handled the toxic herbicide Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War.
The number one national priority was the push for this bill, though Creswell had a very personal interest. Oregon State Commander and Creswell man Rick Higgins told Congress about a Creswell VFW member who died of cancers caused by Agent Orange in 2017.
The bill also protects veterans who served at Air Force bases in Thailand, and along the demilitarized zone in Korea where the herbicide was used, as well as the children of veterans born with spina bifida, Beck said.
At the request of Oregon VFW delegates, Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced an amendment to the bill to correct the date of exposure from 1968 to 1967, when spraying along the Korean demilitarized zone began, Beck said. John Wrinkle, Redmond VFW and Oregon senior vice commander, asked for the amendment.
On another note, at the conference Beck spoke about a time when he was an instructor at the United State Army Command and General Staff College in 1996. One of his captains was suffering serious health issues after supervising burn pit destruction of Iraqi war material after Desert Storm, he said, and spoke on that issue.
Other priorities discussed were veteran healthcare, airborne hazards from open burn pits, concurrent retirement pay and disability compensation, and transition from active duty to civilian life.
This year, a goal in the VFW has been to increase membership, Beck said. The two VFW posts in each size category with the largest membership increase by Jan. 1 were awarded $1,000 each if their commander and/or quartermaster were able to attend this conference, which was awarded to Beck.
”The Creswell post was number one in our category, and the Fern Ridge post was number two in theirs,” Beck said. Creswell VFW started their fiscal year in July 2018 with 107 members, and rose to 151 members by the time they received the award, Beck said. This is the first award The Creswell VFW post has received this year from National.
Beck said that, while in Washington DC, the participants were given one day to tour, in which Beck, Higgins and Fern Ridge VFW member Kathy Lundeen visited memorials for Vietnam, women veterans and the Korean War, as well as the Lincoln Memorial.



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