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Samaritan Health Services is a veteran-friendly employer and offers many services for veterans including workshops, support groups and hospice services. 

Background image: veteran outreach

Health Care Information

Our veterans navigator helps educate veterans on health care options offered by Samaritan Health Services and also helps veterans connect with the Department of Veterans Affairs for eligibility inquiries with the Veterans Choice Program. If eligible, our navigator will assist in helping veterans establish a primary care provider and schedule appointments within the Samaritan system.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, email veterans@samhealth.org or call 541-768-7800.

Background image: Doctor Mullins with veterans

Veteran-Friendly Employer

We greatly value the work ethic, discipline and commitment to teamwork that veterans bring. Led by a President/CEO who is a veteran himself, Samaritan Health Services became the first health system on the West Coast to sign a contract with the Army Partnership for Youth Success program (PaYS). PaYS connects military personnel with potential job openings just before their enlistment ends.

Samaritan’s core values are excellence, respect, service, integrity, stewardship, compassion and leadership. Veterans embody these same standards while serving our country and can use their military skills and training to contribute to our mission of enhancing community and individual health in our region.

Additionally, Samaritan recognizes that veterans may face challenges while transitioning back into a civilian workplace. To help with this, we provide training and support during that transition.  

Meet some of our veterans, front row: Christina Myers, Army Reserve; Larry Mullins, Marine Corps; Sheila Sullivan, Navy. Back row: Ben Watts, Army; David Jones, Air Force; Scott Balzer, Army.

Military Friendly Employer logo  Military Friendly Spouse Employer seal   PAYS

Background image: veteran outreach

Hospice Veterans Program

Samaritan Evergreen Hospice partners with the We Honor Veterans program to help us better serve the veterans on hospice. We Honor Veterans, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association and Veterans Affairs, is designed to empower hospice professionals and volunteers to meet the unique needs of dying veterans. The program teaches respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgement – with the goal of helping hospices better care for our patients with a history of military service, some of whom may be dealing with physical or psychological trauma as they approach the end of their lives. To honor our veterans on hospice we provide “pinning ceremonies”. The format may vary but veterans, who wish, are given a certificate of appreciation with their area of service and a We Honor Veterans pin.

In the hospice house, we place a banner on the outside of the veteran’s room to identify the military branch in which they served. It is a way of honoring their service, and may encourage the veteran to talk about their service time in their life review, with family members, staff and volunteers. For walk outs at the Hospice House we drape our veterans with a quilt of valor.  

We Honor Veterans

Learn more about the guest speakers who will be at the upcoming veterans forums in Newport on March 9, and Corvallis on March 10.

Tom Owen

Tom Owen enlisted in the US Army in October 1966, completed basic training at Fort Ord, California and AIT at Fort Gordon, Georgia. He was deployed from Jan. to June 1968 with 2nd ID in Korea and July 1968 to July 1969 with 36 Signal Battalion in Camp Evans Vietnam.

Owen worked for 17 years as a forest contractor providing forest management planning, tree planting and selective logging using draft horses to minimize environmental impact.

He has coordinated and chaired To Your Health a summer concert series for the community, served on the boards of Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital and Lebanon Community Hospital Foundation, the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce, the City of Lebanon Planning Commissioner and the City of Lebanon Technical Advisory Board for Planning and Zoning.

Owens has also served the VVA as the Vice President and President of Chapter 585 setting up a scholarship endowment that, with the hard work of 585 members, has nearly $70,000 that readily distributes yearly scholarships to veterans and their family members. He has also served as Oregon State Council Vice President and President, National Board of Directors/Region 8, Vice Chair an Chair of the National Agent Orange Toxic Substance Committee and Special Advisor for the National VVA Agent Orange/Dioxin Exposure Committee.

As Agent Orange Chair/National Vice Chair, he assisted with and participated in, 37 Agent Orange town halls and informational presentations serving over approximately 5,200 veterans and family members in the past four years with several others on the horizon. These events covered cities from Brookings, Oregon to Kalispell, Montana. One event in Bellingham, Washington was the first of its kind to draw Vietnam Veterans from Canada. Another event held at the Portland VA Hospital was also the first town hall of its kind with the long-term and generational effects of toxic exposures.

As a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America National Board of Directors, Oregon State Council President and now a Veterans Advocate as a member of the National Vietnam Veterans of America Agent Orange/Dioxin Exposure and Associates of the Vietnam Veterans of America Toxic Exposure Committees, Owen made 18 trips to Washington, DC and Silver Springs, Maryland over the last six years to promote veterans issues, not only in committee meetings, but with multiple trips to Capitol Hill to lobby face-to-face with legislators. Two of these trips were with party leadership and eventually had a major influence on national legislation concerning veterans issues. 

Owen also has experience assisting veterans with obtaining benefits and needed care. 

Tom Owen, Special Advisor Vietnam Veterans of America Agent Orange Toxic Substances National Committee
Jim Pace

Jim Pace was born in Everett, Washington in 1950 and enlisted in the United States Army after graduating from High School. He served in Germany and Vietnam and is one of four members of his family that served in-country. After being discharged from service, he attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington and received a Bachelors of Arts Degree in 1977. While working in the private sector for a number of years, he became a VA Accredited Service Officer for the American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of America. As a Senior Veterans Service Officer, he has worked non-stop providing information regarding veterans being exposed to Agent Orange and the effects it has on our children. 

Jim Pace, Veterans Service Officer

Nancy Switzer is the past and founding president of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America. As the current co-chair of the AVVA National Committee for Toxic Exposure, She was instrumental in convening the very first Agent Orange town hall meeting, held in 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky. Switzer has held numerous positions within AVVA, having been associated with Vietnam Veterans of America since 1981. She is proud of her role in establishing the AVVA Veterans Service Officer program and authored the Paper Safe, an estate planning guide for veterans and their families.

Switzer has received the Vietnam Veterans of America Commendation Medal and Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America’s National President’s Medal, the first associate member to receive this recognition, the Humanitarian Award and Legion of Honor Bronze Medallion from the Chapel of the Four Chaplains.

Nancy Switzer, Founding President Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America

Dr. Tom Berger is a Life Member of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and founding member of VVA Chapter 317 in Kansas City, Missouri. Dr. Berger served as a Navy Corpsman with the 3rd Marine Corps Division in Vietnam during 1966-68. Following his military service and upon the subsequent completion of his postdoctoral studies, he’s held faculty, research and administrative appointments at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, the State University System of Florida in Tallahassee and the University of Missouri-Columbia, as well as program administrator positions with the Illinois Easter Seal Society and United Cerebral Palsy.

After serving as chair of VVA’s national PTSD and Substance Abuse Committee for almost a decade, he joined the staff of the VVA national office as Senior Policy Analyst for Veterans’ Benefits & Mental Health Issues in 2008. In June 2009, he was appointed Executive Director of the VVA Veterans Health Council, whose primary mission is to improve the health care of America’s veterans through education and information.

Dr. Berger has been involved in veterans’ advocacy for over thirty years and he is a member of VVA’s national health care, government affairs, PTSD & substance abuse, toxic substances and women veterans committees. In addition, he is a member, and the former Chair, of the Veterans Administration’s (VA) Consumer Liaison Council for the Committee on Care of Veterans with Serious Mental Illness in Washington, D.C. He is also a member of the VA’s Mental Health Quality Enhancement Research Initiative Executive Committee based in Little Rock, Arkansas and the South Central Mental Illness Research and Education Clinical Center based in Houston, Texas. Dr. Berger also holds the distinction of being the first representative of a national veterans’ service organization to hold membership on the VA’s Executive Committee of the Substance Use Disorder Quality Enhancement Research Initiative in Palo Alto, CA and serves as a committee member on the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors veterans’ work group. He has also served as a member of the National Leadership Forum on Behavioral Health-Criminal Justice Services with the CMHS-funded national GAINS Center and as a reviewer of proposals for both the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs and PCORI.  He is a current member of the Education Advisory Committee for the National Center for PTSD in White River Junction, Vermont, as well as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention in Washington, D.C., and a member of the Advisory Board for the National Crisis Center in New York and serves on both the Scientific Committee and the Veterans Advisory Council for Suicide Prevention Initiatives in New York City. Most recently he was appointed to the VA Genomic Medicine Program Advisory Committee and the VA’s Vietnam Health Evaluation Retrospective Observational Study Steering Committee.

Dr. Berger has addressed veterans’ health care issues on local Washington, D.C. and national media outlets including CNN, ABC, BBC, NPR International, National Geographic and other electronic media outlets. He has also addressed these issues before FDA committees and justice department commissions, and on many occasions, has presented on-the-record testimony before both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees, subcommittees and other federal agencies regarding mental health, substance abuse and related health issues affecting America’s veterans.

Dr. Berger’s varied academic interests have included peer-reviewed research, published books and articles in the biological sciences, wildlife regulatory law, adolescent risk behaviors, domestic violence, substance abuse, suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder and other veteran-related health issues. He currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Tom Berger, Ph.D

Support Matters

If you, or someone you know needs support, call the confidential Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255. Press 1.