Looking into OK Veteran Care
Recent reports of death and abuse at Oklahoma veterans’ centers prompts lawmakers to hold an interim study to discuss changes.
Senators want to know at what led the Oklahoma War Veterans’ Commission and Oklahoma Department of Veterans’ Affairs to withhold information about the death of an 85-year-old veteran at a Claremore Center.
Veterans’ Affairs Committee vice-chair Frank Simpson says he was concerned to hear that the commission excluded the Governor and Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs from parts of their meetings.
“When the governor of the state of Oklahoma has to find out we’ve had someone who was killed in one of our centers, has to find out from the press it just echoes to me that we’ve got a broken system and we’ve got to find some way to fix it.”
Simpson says he would support legislation to give more power to the Governor.
US Navy Veteran Barry Snyder, one of several veterans who showed up for the meeting, says maybe the Governor should have more control.
“Well I agree with less bureaucracy, less litigation, and such, and streamlining the system. I heard a lot of talk about authority and accountability. I’d like to see it.”
Another subject which came up during the meeting was recent cuts over the past few years to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and pay of workers at the centers.
This hit home to Dennis Weese who served in the Navy during Vietnam.
“Having an $11 an hour nurse’s aide try to treat them or stay with them most of the time, these nurse’s aides are with them most of the time, doctors, nurses come in once in a while, but we need quality in our care for our veterans.”
The agencies are currently under new leadership after the executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs retired and the administrator of the Claremore center resigned.
Senator Simpson, a Navy veteran himself, says he wants to take a closer look at the individual centers at the next meeting on September 27th.