Saturday, October 27, 2012

Oregon Soldiers return home following one-year Afghanistan deployment

121027-FS713_325 by oregonmildep
121027-FS713_325, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.
Oregon National Guard Spc. Brad Porter, of the 1186 Military Police Company, holds his daughter, Niema, during his unit's change of command and demobilization ceremony at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Ore., Oct. 27.

The unit recently returned from a year-long deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where they provided force protection, personal security for high profile visitors, and trained the Afghan National Police.

The event also included a 30-day Yellow Ribbon Reintegration event that ensures returning service members and their families are aware of health, employment and education benefits and resources. This is Porter's third deployment (Oregon Military Department Photo by Sgt. Cory Grogan)

To see the rest of the photos from this event visit our Flickr page here.

Posted Oct. 27, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Anti-terrorism grants awarded to Oregon counties total some $1.4M

SALEM, Ore.-- Grants totaling $1.4 million dollars have been awarded to 21 Oregon counties to provide resources and capabilities for responding to terrorism through the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP), according to the director of the Oregon Military Department's Office of Emergency Management.

The SHSP is provided through FEMA and focuses on responders including emergency management, law enforcement, fire protection, public health, 911 programs, and others.

A priority for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management is the regional and collaborative enhancement of planning, organization, equipment, training and exercise capabilities.

"The grant money will help equip communities throughout Oregon with the equipment and resources needed for terrorism and all hazard emergencies," said Martin Plotner, Director, Oregon Military Department's, Office of Emergency Management. 

In June, grant application workshops were held throughout the state explaining the program and what projects and programs qualified for these funds.   A peer review group of state, local and county emergency professionals screened and evaluated all grant submissions.  Those counties who received approval have been notified.

Below is the complete list of conditional awards that were approved.

FY2012 Approved By Jurisdiction Report

Benton County: Conditionally Approved, $162,938.00

Clackamas County: Conditionally Approved, $36,036.00

Clatsop CountyConditionally Approved, $31,057.00

Columbia CountyConditionally Approved, $16,000.00

Coos CountyConditionally Approved, $27,430.00

Crook County: Conditionally Approved, $12,476.00

Deschutes County: Conditionally Approved, $30,649.00

Douglas County: Conditionally Approved, $66,520.00

Harney County: Conditionally Approved, $10,364.00

Hood River County: Conditionally Approved, $12,385.00

Jackson County: Conditionally Approved, $1,225.00

Jefferson County: Conditionally Approved, $12,128.00

Lane County: Conditionally Approved, $63,716.00

Marion County: Conditionally Approved, $56,503.00

Multnomah County: Conditionally Approved, $98,668.00

Polk County: Conditionally Approved, $190,650.00

Sherman County: Conditionally Approved, $9,691.00

Tillamook County: Conditionally Approved, $12,400.00

Wasco County: Conditionally Approved, $12,687.00

Washington County: Conditionally Approved, $142,348.00

Yamhill County: Conditionally Approved, $21,190.00

Posted by Master Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon Military Department Social Media Manager

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Home loan rates drop to historic lows for veterans

SALEM - For the second time in less than a month, the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs (ODVA) has reduced its home loan rates. A 30-year fixed rate loan is now 2.99 percent (3.225 APR).

Additionally, the ORVET Home Loan Program's 20-year loan rate is now 2.625 percent (3.62 APR) and 3.25 percent (3.376 APR) for a 30-year fixed rate loan with no origination fee.  ORVET continually offers one of the lowest and more competitive home loan interest rates available to qualified veteran home buyers.

The ORVET Home Loan Program is a state of Oregon veteran benefit and is separate from the federal VA home loan guaranty program.  Even if a veteran has purchased a home using the federal VA program, they may still be eligible for a home loan through the ODVA.

"These very low competitive rates coupled with today's home market will give our qualified veterans an even greater opportunity to buy a home," said Jim Willis, Director of the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs. "ODVA is a gateway for veteran borrowers to some of the most competitive rates available."

The ORVET Home Loan is a lifetime benefit for eligible veterans with a maximum loan amount of $417,000 for a single family, owner occupied residence.

For more information about eligibility and rate details, contact ODVA's Home Loan Department at 1-888-673-8387, or visit their website here.

Posted Oct. 23, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

Oregon National Guard dedicates new facility in Dallas, Ore.

--> Above: Dignitaries participate in a ribbon cutting to dedicate the new Col. James W. Nesmith Readiness Center in Dallas, Ore., Oct. 12. From left: Dallas Mayor Brian Dalton; Lewis Linn McArthur, great-grandson of the late Col. James W. Nesmith; Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, Adjutant General, Oregon; Congressman Kurt Schrader; Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney; Polk County Commissioner Mike Ainsworth; and Larry Deibert, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army.  The Nesmith Readiness Center is home to the Oregon Army National Guard's 162 Engineer Company. (Photo by Staff Sgt. April Davis, Oregon Military Department)


The Oregon National Guard dedicated the new Col. James W.Nesmith Readiness Center during a ribbon cutting ceremony, Oct. 12, in Dallas, Ore.

The Nesmith Readiness Center is home to the Oregon Army National Guard's 162 Engineer Company.

The readiness center is named for Col. James W. Nesmith, who served in the Rogue and Yakima Wars, and represented Oregon as a United States Senator.  Nesmith also served on the Committee of Military Affairs, where he supported measures which provided for road and railroad construction and river improvements throughout Oregon.  Nesmith also opposed the payment of bounties to enlist Soldiers as well as a provision that released men from serving upon payment of a $300 commutation fee.

Known as "the father of Polk County," he pushed for legislation in 1847 to create a separate county out of what was then a very large Yamhill County.  In 1849, Nesmith purchased O'Neals Mills west of Dallas, and changed its name to Nesmith's Mills. This became the first post office site in Polk County and James Nesmith acted as postmaster from 1850 to 1852. He was elected treasurer of Polk County in 1852 and, in 1853, President Franklin Pierce appointed him U.S. Marshall.

The Design-Build team of Lease Crutcher Lewis, LLC and THA Architecture were contracted in September of 2010 to design and construct a 41,263,000 square-foot facility that will house the 162 Engineer Company with 122 Soldiers.  The new readiness center, completed in September 2012, replaces the old armory built in 1911 at 18,206 square-feet which had suffered severe damage to the roof and supporting members and degraded masonry.

Significant features of the building include a full commercial grade kitchen, modern weight room, a 1,225 square-foot small-arms training simulation room, a 5,800 square-foot assembly area, 2,200 square-feet of dividable classroom space, and 2,848 square-feet of maintenance bays to support the units 75 engineer vehicles. 

This facility will serve as a community resource with flexible rental space to accommodate events such as weddings, gatherings and concerts.  According to designers, the building was designed for simple operation, low-maintenance and ease of management.

The overall design helps the facility blend into the surrounding countryside. The green design meets the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and is currently being considered for a Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

For another look at the readiness center, see the story from the Polk County Itemizer-Observer, here.

Posted by Master Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon Military Department Social Media Manager 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Oregon Guard honors former governor by naming installation after him

121002-Z-TK422-1302 by oregonmildep
121002-Z-TK422-1302, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.
Former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski (second from left), pictured with Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees (far left), Adjutant General, Oregon; Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber; and Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney (far right), following the dedication ceremony for the Governor Theodore Kulongoski Army Aviation Support Facility, in Salem, Ore., Oct. 2. The installation was named in honor of the former governor for his support of Oregon’s Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen. Kulongoski, Oregon’s longest standing wartime governor, who served as commander-in-chief of the Oregon National Guard, attended almost all of the Oregon National Guard’s deployment ceremonies and the funerals of Oregon service members killed overseas during his two terms in office. “Always a Marine, Always a Soldier, forever an Oregonian,” Courtney said of Kulongoski during his speech. (Photo by Master Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Maine, Oregon aviation units develop MEDEVAC partnership

Story by 1st Lt. Kerri Brantley, 35th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

CAMP BUEHRING, KUWAIT - The focus of the mission in Kuwait is partnerships with the friends of the region while the 35th Combat Aviation Brigade is deployed here. However there is also a state-to-state partnership being fostered in the medical evacuation company.

Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment (medevac) is comprised of Forward Support Medical Teams from both Maine and Oregon National Guard's, these states were two of the last few wholly organic medevac units within a given state. The two units did not make the merge into one company until they met at Fort Hood, Texas, during pre-mobilization training and validation. From past deployments, the company commander, Maj. Mark Stevens, from Saco, Maine, has been told about all the issues of working side-by-side with different states.

“We all come from different states, different cultures, one of my biggest concern was our people wouldn’t get along,” said Stevens.

A significant concern of the commander was whether the unit would come together as a team or be two-separate entities; however that is not at all what has happened with this group.

“This has been an extremely easy transition, personalities, training, standards of operations, all lined up,” said Stevens. “They were just like us, Oregon fit right in. This was great that it happened to be so smooth, because this is a long-term partnership. This deployment is the foundation and it was a good start.”

The only disagreement the members from both states have had is the correct pronunciation of Oregon.

“As commander, that has made my job easier, having good Soldiers from both states,” said Stevens.

The commander was not the only one who feared that the unit would not come together as a team, 1st Lt. Samantha Franklin, of Eugene, Ore., is the assistant platoon leader and had similar apprehensions.

“I thought we would be excluded from missions, but that was falsity. There has never been and ‘us and them’ mentality,” said Franklin. “Once we all got together at Fort Hood, leadership has worked hard to ensure there were no lines drawn.”

The unit has faced some struggles together and endured a loss of one of their Soldiers, but in that time of despair the unit stood together. When one was struggling with the loss, another Soldier would be that stronghold.

“The ability for the unit to come together, even in the hard times, just affirmed we are a cohesive team, we know we can lean on one another,” said Franklin. “We also mix the aircrews together, so there is never all Maine or all Oregon personnel on a flight. This allows us to learn from one another all the time.”

The company is the only medevac asset in the 35th CAB, with the primary mission to be the air ambulance for this region. However, when not conducting medical evacuations for troops here, they are training other units for what they have coined as Medevac 101. To date, the company has educated almost 900 people in medevac training.

Medevac 101 teaches evacuation protocols; how to call in the Army’s 9-Line medevac request, how to prepare the landing zone, helicopter safety, and more. Flight medics are the primary instructors for the training.

“The training has multiple levels starting with the basic terminology to simulating a live transport while the helicopter is powered up with the blades running,” said Sgt. Erica Yates.

Back home, in Maine, Yates is a nurse; she is new to aviation but likes teaching the Combat Lifesaver course and Medevac 101.

“The thing I appreciate most is for everyone to have basic safety and understanding of how to operate around the helicopter,” Yates said. “If they had to do this for real, they will know how to do it safely.”

Also playing a vital role in the training is another instructor, Spc. Matthew Maloney, from Oregon. He is also new to aviation, but an experienced combat medic and previously deployed to Iraq with an infantry unit. He was recently hero of the week for his eagerness to progress as a flight medic; extremely active in training the forces, having a great capacity to learn and retain knowledge, which is vital to being a successful flight medic.

“Combining flight crews, for training and real-world evacuations has allowed individuals to come together as a team, we all came here for the same purpose,” said Maloney. “Being able to help someone in a critical situation and train others to help is a very rewarding experience.”

Capt. William Bradbury, from Maine, led a medevac group in the partnership with Jordan, in case a real-world situation happened, they would be there to help. The unit took the opportunity to conduct training flights while there as well.

“The terrain is different in Jordan and it was good to get that experience,” said Bradbury. “We integrated flight crews, so that everyone felt like a part of the whole and no one feels like an outsider.”

Long-lasting friendships have developed over the course of this deployment.

“We just clicked, our values were very similar, it’s like we found our long-lost brothers and sisters,” said Bradbury. “I will definitely stay in contact via Facebook and email. It would be really rewarding to do a Yellow Ribbon event together after the deployment.”

Yellow Ribbon is a Guard and Reserve program that assists members who have served in combat and experienced the stress of war. Once they return to communities and jobs scattered across the nation and to friends and family who may not grasp the depth of their experience, Charlie Company would like the chance to be able to support one another once they are home.

“It would be great to see where they live and for us to get the chance to show them around our home and meet each other’s families,” said Bradbury. “It may or may not happen, but it would be an opportunity, which we would be forever grateful.”

The unit continues to support partnerships in this region that promote stability and security, as they also foster this state-to-state medevac partnership.

“We have set the baseline for a long-term partnership, along with mission success and established lifelong friendships; it doesn’t get much better than that,” said Stevens.

The unit is due home early spring 2013.