The Vietnam Veterans of America bestowed their highest honor to Boring resident Steve Bates for his commitment to America’s veterans. On March 17, 2020, Steve Bates was presented a certificate and letter from Jaycee Newman, the Secretary of the Oregon State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
In the letter, Vietnam Veterans of America national president, John P. Rowan wrote: “It is my privilege to award you an Honorary Life Membership in Vietnam Veterans of America. Your commitment to veterans and keeping the core principal of VVA that ‘never again shall one generation of veterans abandon another’ first and foremost, your dedication is appreciated.”
Although he never served in the military, over the past five years, he has been actively involved with several veteran’s projects that have impacted veterans, veterans’ families and communities around the state of Oregon.
Mack Payne, founder of the Vietnam Veterans News podcast stated on September 14, 2019: “Steve Bates is making a difference for Vietnam Vets in Oregon”.
Jaycee Newman, Secretary of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Oregon State Council, who pursued this honor for him, stated: “This is the highest honor that we can give to Steve for his efforts on behalf of veterans”.
He has served as the Chair of the Committee on Memorials and Remembrance since its founding in 2015. The committee has accomplished a great deal under his leadership. The committee honored all four Oregon families that lost two sons in Vietnam. It started with the Wright family in Boring. Two Fallen Hero Memorial Highway signs stand on Highway 26 in Boring honoring the Wright brothers. Subsequently, he led the committee to honor the Rowden family of Jackson County, the Johnson family of Lincoln County and the Evans family of Klamath County. Fallen Hero Memorial Highway signs stand on state highways in honor of each son close to their respective boyhood homes.
The Boring, Oregon Vietnam Memorial would not exist if it were not for his efforts. It was dedicated on September 21, 2018. The Boring community also flies the POW/MIA flag 365 days a year because of the involvement of Steve Bates. He was quoted as saying: “Flying that flag 365 days, seven days a week, 24 hours a day; demonstrates that the Boring community supports our veterans”.
Under his leadership, the Committee on Memorials and Remembrance proposed and supported legislation to increase property tax relief for disabled veterans. In addition, the committee supported Measure 96 in 2016 which gave Veterans service organizations a percentage of the Oregon Lottery proceeds.
Currently, he serves as President of the Vietnam War Memorial Fund which was founded with the expressed purpose to fund and build a Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds. The Committee on Memorials and Remembrance identified this project as one of its goals in 2015.
Steve Bates stated: “To have those who served in my stead recognize me in this manner is humbling. I look forward to the completion of the Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds so that we can honor all of our Oregon Vietnam Veterans.”