Tribute to Jim Willisby Senator Jeff Merkley
Posted on 2013-02-12
MERKLEY. Mr. President, I rise today to echo what my
colleague Senator Wyden said in recognition of Jim Willis, a native
Oregonian and one of Oregon's greatest champions for veterans and their
As an airman during the Vietnam War, and as an officer for the Oregon State Police, Jim has dedicated his life to serving and protecting the citizens of the United States and the State of Oregon.
[[Page S651]] Jim saw his work as fulfilling a sacred obligation: we all have the responsibility to honor and care for our veterans. For the past decade, under Jim's leadership, the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs, ODVA, has stayed true to its mission and recognized and honored Oregon's veterans and their families by providing the highest quality programs, services and benefits.
Jim's dedication to providing quality programs and resources to all veterans and their families has lead ODVA--a relatively small agency-- to accomplish a lot during his service. His decision to retire comes on the heels of some major accomplishments over the last few years, including beginning construction of a new veterans' home and the completion of a community center, both to serve Oregon's elderly veterans. Jim's legacy will be the impact that these projects will have on the lives of Oregon's veterans and their families.
With his service to the American Legion National Cemetery Committee and Veterans of Foreign Wars, and his current tenure as President of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, Jim works from a national platform to promote and advocate for veterans benefits. For Jim, every day is Veterans Day.
It has been a pleasure to work with Jim, both as a member of the Oregon State Legislature and as a U.S. Senator.
Jim will be retiring to his home in Albany, where he will spend time with his family. He plans to ``continue to be concerned for my fellow veterans as long as I am able to assist in serving them in the future,'' and in that regard will continue to be active in the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and with the committee overseeing Oregon's World War II Memorial, currently under construction on the grounds of the Oregon Capitol.
Oregon is proud of and grateful for all of the hard work and leadership displayed by Jim Willis over his long and decorated career. I am especially proud of his many achievements and I thank him for his many years of outstanding public service. We wish him a happy and healthy retirement, and thank him for his continued dedication to Oregon's veterans.