Press Release: June 2020 ODVA Special Director's Message

Dear Oregon Veterans, ODVA Employees, and Partners,

Those of us who once wore a military uniform swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and the principles upon which our nation was founded: that all people are created equal, and that everyone has the basic human right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  That promise became part of our very identity, something that we took pride in then and continue to take great pride in now.

Because those principles are also part of my identity as a veteran and as a leader in state government, I am deeply troubled by the senseless killing of George Floyd. His brutal murder, and that of so many Black Americans before him, is so contrary to our nation’s fundamental, shared values that it has left many of us shocked, angered, and searching for a meaningful response.  George Floyd’s death is also a reminder that for many Americans, particularly people of color, their life experiences fall short of the ideals upon which our nation was founded. Although I can never fully understand the frustration and life experiences of Black Americans, I can call attention to the deeply-rooted racial injustices in this country and in this state. I can call attention to the fact that many of the systems in place contribute to those injustices to this day. I am aware that how we collectively respond regardless of our individual perspectives will chart the course of our nation moving forward.

While in military service, veterans from all walks of life have risked their lives in combat to oppose the repression of basic human rights around the globe.  Many even worked to right wrongs within the military experienced by Black and brown Americans, women, and LGBTQ individuals who simply wanted to serve our country and yet encountered injustice in the ranks. ODVA’s work with underserved and marginalized veterans highlights the impact of this inequality and the ceaseless need for such work to continue.

Today ODVA joins others in our nation calling for more than words --for meaningful transformational change.  Admittedly, the work ODVA does to help right the wrongs that many veterans have experienced who have been traditionally underserved by our system is small considering the magnitude of the need. However, we will continue to stand united to ensure the work ODVA does genuinely reflects the basic ideals that our veterans swore to uphold.

We will also listen.  As an agency, we want to create an environment where all veterans’ voices are heard and respected and move us to action.

As we go forward through this painful time, I share with you my commitment that ODVA will continue to work to fulfill our vision that all veterans and their families thrive in Oregon, regardless of race, ethnicity, or skin color, gender, ability, or sexual orientation. By doing so, ODVA will make its own modest contribution to the larger effort to ensure that all Americans live free from systemic injustice, violence, and prejudice, and have the opportunity to pursue a life of dignity, free of fear and full of hope. 

Those are the ideals upon which our veterans swore an oath to defend, and they are the core of ODVA’s commitment to serve, honor, and advocate for Oregon’s veterans and their families.

Sincerely,

Kelly Fitzpatrick

Director

 

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