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For the veterans who came to Saturday morning's service at Timber Linn Memorial Park, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden shared his gratitude.

For the veterans who never made it home, he shared his sorrow.

For the veterans who struggle to make it through each day as they battle pain, depression, addiction, post-traumatic Stress Disorder and myriad other challenges, he shared a crisis line phone number — and a pledge for support.

Oregon's veterans are dying by suicide at double the rate of non-veterans nationwide, a crisis that hits rural Oregon particularly hard, the Democratic senator told an audience of close to 200 people at Saturday's Veterans Day Memorial Service.

"We have to do more to reduce this scourge of veteran suicides in our state, Wyden said. "Folks, this has nothing to do with politics. Nothing."

Wyden said he worked with the Trump administration in 2017 to get a Portland-based crisis call center, Lines for Life, linked with the national Veterans Crisis Line. He was on hand at the center Friday to celebrate the grand opening for that expansion.

"Mental and physical health care is a must for our veterans," he said.

After the memorial service, several people thanked Wyden for those efforts, including Sherri Sperling of Albany, whose son, Matthew, is both an Army and Navy veteran who served in Iraq.

"I'm an American, I'm a staunch Republican, I disagree with him on almost everything — but he's my senator, and I will honor him," Sperling said. "I think that's an attitude we need to rekindle in America." 

Sperling asked Wyden for more information about Lines for Life, including the phone number.

"There are a lot of things we can agree on, and we need to focus on that," she said.

The Lines for Life crisis number can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, and veterans can then press one for specialized support. Resources also are available on the Lines for Life website:

Saturday's ceremony unfolded under a blanket of fog and temperatures in the mid-30s. Flags at the memorial were lowered to half-mast to honor the 12 people killed in the nation's most recent mass shooting, in Thousand Oaks, California.

Led by Jim Willis, retired director of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, the ceremony included welcome speeches by Mayor Sharon Konopa, Miss Oregon Taylor Ballard and Adjutant General of Oregon Major General Michael E. Stencel.

The Lebanon High School Army JROTC posted and retired the colors, and Chaplain Scott Delbridge of the Oregon Army National Guard gave the invocation and benediction. The 234th Army Band played "God Bless America" and songs for each branch of the service.

Dave Filley and Terri Thorpe placed wreaths, respectively, honoring Prisoners of War/Missing in Action and Gold Star families. Following that, the National Guard's Bravo Battery 2-218 Field Artillery fired 21 volleys from three howitzers and bugler Glen Hunter played "Taps." 

Willis gave special recognition to the U.S. Marine Corps, which marked its 243rd birthday on Saturday, drawing an "Oo-rah!" from the audience.

He also gave a particular welcome to Bud Barnes of Lebanon, the 2018 Veteran of the Year, and noted that if he could brave the cold morning at age 100, the rest of those present should have nothing to complain about.

Willis added that he told Barnes recently he had 25 years to go to match his age. 

Barnes' response, he said: "Piece of cake."

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