Rep. Cliff Bentz addresses veterans at Vietnam War Veterans Day event
In his first trip back to Oregon since being sworn in early this year, U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, came to speak at the Central Oregon Veterans Ranch north of Bend in honor of Vietnam War Veterans Day.
Dozens of veterans, their friends and families gathered Monday at the ranch, which supports veterans by offering peer support and agriculture-related therapy.
“We’re here to honor you for your sacrifice and your suffering,” Alison Perry, Founder of Central Oregon Veterans Ranch, said at the event.
When addressing the crowd, Bentz recounted his own experience huddling by a radio, waiting to hear whether his draft number was going to be called.
He committed to learning more about and advocating for veterans’ issues.
“We’ll do our best to fight for you just like you fought for us,” Bentz said.
In his statement, Bentz briefly mentioned to the crowd he co-sponsored H.R. 1448, which directs the Secretary of Veteran Affairs to carry out a pilot program on dog training therapies to provide service dogs to veterans who do not have mobility impairments. He is one of 308 to co-sponsor the bill.
Bentz said in general, however, the world of veterans issues is new to him, and said he is thankful he still has people who worked for his predecessor, Greg Walden, to help him.
His goal this week back home in Oregon is to listen and learn from constituents about what issues need to be addressed, he said. At this event, a handful of veterans made one issue clear: Too many veterans are not getting the benefits — or have trouble getting the benefits — they deserve from Veterans Affairs.
“When people are expressing dissatisfaction then that means something’s not working quite right, and we need to get in there and get to work,” Bentz said in response to a question about what he learned from the day.
Other issues Bentz said he has heard about from constituents include the impacts from wildfire, COVID-19 and consistent droughts. The struggle business owners have to find enough workers to run their operations has also consistently come up, he said.
When asked why he didn’t vote in favor of the federal government’s most recent stimulus package, which allocated $1,400 checks to individuals making $75,000 a year or less, Bentz said the bill wasn’t targeted enough to those who really needed it and he was concerned about the debt future generations would have to pay back. He said some businesses actually did better financially in the pandemic, and don’t need the assistance.
“Many of the businesses that are now getting money don’t need it,” Bentz said in a separate interview Monday. “People are saying our schools are awash and yet they are going to be getting more.”
When asked for specific examples of businesses that were getting money but didn’t need it, Bentz referred The Bulletin to a press release. No specific businesses or industries were listed, but “bailouts for mismanaged public union pensions” and “policies that give federal bureaucrats better paid leave than those which are available to essential workers” were mentioned.
Bentz acknowledged that he has not reopened the Bend office formerly maintained by Walden, but said he will open a Central Oregon office in the future.