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Oregon Lawmakers To Give LGBT Vets A Boost


David Nogueras/OPB

Oregon could become the first state to have a coordinator who assists LGBT veterans.

State lawmakers passed a bill this week that would fund the position at the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs.

One issue the coordinator would deal with is veterans who were discharged because of their sexual orientation, in some cases dating as far back as World War II.

“One of the responsibilities within that role would be to assist people to apply to have their discharge status upgraded,” said state Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, a chief sponsor of the bill.

Because of their sexual orientation, Gelser said some veterans did not receive a general or honorable discharge following their service. She said that barred some people from receiving benefits from the VA.

Cameron Smith, director of the Oregon Department of Veteran Affairs, said there is “tremendous diversity” across the state’s 320,000 veterans.

“Our diversity as a veterans community does not divide us, it makes us stronger,” Smith said. “We have under served populations of veterans.”

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