News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Commissioners learn about veterans assistance

Linn County Communications Officer

Linn County Communications Officer.

Linn County Veterans Services will soon be able to assist veterans whose health has been negatively affected by Agent Orange and by chemicals released from large fire pits during the Gulf War, Veterans Services Officer Dee Baley-Hyder told the Board of Commissioners Oct. 4.

Baley-Hyder said Congress recently passed the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, what she said may be the “largest health care and benefit expansion in Veteran Administration history.”

Baley-Hyder said the program will aid veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals as far back as the Vietnam War.

The act adds 23 new presumptive conditions and could affect five million veterans or their survivors. She said the program’s budget is $300 billion over ten years.

Veterans Services has had 23 inquiries since September, Baley-Hyder said and the program doesn’t start until January.

She also said the county has helped families recover $831,820 in benefits since July 1, compared to $363,328 for the same time period a year ago.

Veterans Services has also used all of the $11,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs to provide transportation for veterans who can’t drive and need transportation to medical services.

Linn County committed up to $20,000 to supplement the program and Baley-Hyder said she has used about $6,617 of that allotment.

“This has been very popular,” Baley-Hyder said. “We have trips booked through mid-October already.”

She said many of the veterans are receiving cancer treatment or have diabetes and have wound care
appointments.

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