The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA) is now accepting online donations to support four funds aimed at improving programs and supporting efforts that benefit Oregon veterans.
One of the funds, the Veteran Suicide Awareness and Prevention Fund, was established in 2013 when the Oregon Legislature passed SB 762 creating a public information campaign to raise awareness and prevent suicide by veterans in Oregon. Part of the awareness effort partnered ODVA with the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles and the Oregon Charitable Checkoff Commission to raise money for this effort.
Federal U.S. efforts have also turned to raising awareness about suicides by veterans. In 2007, a law required the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase its suicide prevention efforts by educating the public about suicide risk factors, providing additional mental health resources for veterans and tracking veteran suicides in each state.
In Oregon, between 2008 and 2012, suicide rates among veterans were significantly higher compared to non-veterans. According to the Suicide Among Oregon Veterans report published by the Oregon Health Authority in May 2014, more than 150 Oregon veterans or service members took their lives in 2012. Nationally, it is estimated that there are 22 veteran suicides per day, nearly one every 65 minutes.
“These men and women are proud, proven, committed patriotic citizens who deserve nothing less than the best in care, resources, and opportunities from our state – not as a charity, but as an investment,” said ODVA Director Cameron Smith. “When they are struggling, we need to be sure they know that they are not alone and that there are resources available.”
Besides the Suicide Awareness and Prevention Fund, donors can choose to support other funds including the Oregon Veterans Homes, the Oregon Veteran Support Fund, and Oregon Women Veterans.
“For the first time in ODVA’s history, we are striving to serve veterans spanning four generations and five major wars. With more than 320,000 veterans in Oregon, we are serving an increasingly diverse veterans’ population that has significant needs,” Smith said. “For those most impacted by their military service, we must understand their tenacious spirit and respond to their changing needs. Donations to ODVA help make that possible”
To make a tax deductible donation online to any of these programs, go to: http://www.oregon.gov/odva