News: Community covenant makes a difference
By Capt. Timothy Merritt
Oregon National Guard Joint Force Headquarters
MCMINNVILLE, Ore. – Mayors, members of the business community, faith based organizations, veterans service organizations, and the Oregon National Guard gathered at the Yamhill County Fair, Aug. 2, to sign a Joining Community Forces Covenant.
The covenant signing is the culmination of months of planning and preparation for the JCF. The program seeks to expand and reinforce the network of care available to service members and families of Oregon veterans.
“Basically, the community is pledging to take care of their veterans,” said Jerry Wilson, the Yamhill County, Ore., veterans service officer, and a 30-year veteran.
Symbolic of the partnership between veterans and the local community, the American Legion opened and closed the ceremony with a Color Guard comprised of local veterans, which included two soldiers who served in World War II. A survivor of Pearl Harbor, Retired Lt. Col. Leonard DeWitt, Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross recipient, also attended the event.
Paul Partridge, program manager for Yamhill County Health and Human Services, gave particular credit to Elán Lambert, the special projects officer from the Oregon Army National Guard, for organizing the event. Lambert served on the original JCF steering committee in January, and helped all of the various agencies and organizations to see new ways they could work together to assist service members and families.
“We do everything we can do to help veterans locally,” said Kathy George, a Yamhill County commissioner.
Moving forward, the committee will continue to focus on trying to identify and close any gaps in coverage for those in need.
The covenant signing ceremony concluded with an Armed Forces Medley sung by the local musical group “In Accord.”
“I’m very pleased with the turn out in attendance,” said Consuelo Christenson, a retired Air Force first sergeant. “It has all gone so smoothly and we’re excited about working together.”