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Supporters of bill to deal with unclaimed veterans remains will try again

Lawmakers are returning to the state capitol, seem here at a Veterans Day ceremony, for a Dec. 13 special session.
Chris M Lehman
People gathered at the Oregon Capitol last November for a Veterans Day ceremony.

Supporters of a bill that would help ensure veterans receive a proper burial say they’ll try again to get the measure approved in Salem.

The bill would direct county governments to work with mortuaries to identify unclaimed remains of veterans and start the process to arrange for burial in a national cemetery. It comes several years after dozens of veterans' remains were found in storage in a Roseburg mortuary.

A previous attempt to pass the bill failed this year. The Oregon House approved it but it never came up for a vote in the Senate.

Rep. Dacia Grayber, D-Portland, said Thursday that she would make it a priority in next year's legislative session.

"When we talk about the brave men and women who have served our country and died in that service, being in storage for decades in some cases, it is ethically (and) morally wrong,” she said during a meeting of the House Interim Committee on Veterans and Emergency Management, which she chairs.

Grayber said the bill would be introduced as a "committee bill," which means that it will be submitted for legislative consideration even if Grayber doesn't win re-election.

The failure of the bill in the 2022 session was a disappointment for Rep. Christine Goodwin, R-Canyonville, whose district includes the Roseburg area.

"I took this one hard," said Goodwin.

"I would really appreciate you successfully getting this through committee," she told Grayber.

"You have the full weight of this committee behind it," responded Grayber.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”