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Veterans finally get 'their day' off

Next Monday is Veterans Day, the day America sets aside to honor the men and women who have defended our freedom around the globe.

Parades and other events are scheduled across Oregon and, thanks to a new law, for the first time thousands of veterans who work for private employers will have the chance to participate. Senate Bill 1, which I sponsored during the 2013 regular session, was signed into law April 4.

The new law allows veterans who work for private companies to take Veterans Day off just like government workers, who have gotten off on Veterans Day for decades.

On Veterans Day 2010 a constituent pointed out to me that her late husband and her current husband, both veterans who worked for private employers, had never had the day off on Veterans Day.

That just wasn’t right. Earlier this year, the Legislature changed Oregon law to allow veterans to get the day off. Their employers have some options, like deciding if it’s paid or unpaid, but the result is that more veterans can celebrate Veterans Day.

The new statute is modeled after an Iowa law which has been in place since 2010. Officials there said businesses have complied with the law without any notable problems in the first two years. Now Oregon joins Iowa as the only two states to so honor our veterans.

Veterans Day is celebrated on Nov. 11, the anniversary of the end of hostilities in World War I in 1918. Originally called Armistice Day, it was first observed on November 11, 1919, and became an official national holiday in 1938. After World War II, Congress changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day in 1954. It was set aside to honor all veterans of all military service and armed conflict.

Allowing all veterans — including those who work for private employers — to have the day off on Veterans Day is a simple way that Oregon can recognize its veterans for their tremendous service and sacrifice. They deserve the day off on their day.

Other bills passed in the 2013 Legislative Session that support our veterans include:

u Senate Bill 461, which designates Interstate 84 as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway;

u House Bill 2421, which will make state services easier to navigate for service men and women;

u Senate Bill 281, which makes Posttraumatic Stress Disorder a qualifying condition for the use of medical marijuana; and

u House Bill 2158, which makes college more accessible and affordable for veterans by allowing veterans who are students at Oregon’s public universities and community colleges to pay tuition at in-state rates.



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