Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs

Former Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs investigator Steven Pancoast
Canadian County Jail

Formal charges were filed Monday against a fired Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs investigator accused of impersonating a law officer, perjury and felony possession of a firearm.

41-year-old Steven Pancoast was arrested Saturday, but denied any wrongdoing as early as Wednesday to The Oklahoman.

Maj. Gen. Myles Deering
wikipedia.org

The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs plans to expand mental health services, improve its seven long-term care facilities and increase educational and employment opportunities for veterans, the state’s new Secretary for Veterans Affairs said this week.

Ret. General Myles Deering said Thursday he would identify “as many veterans as possible” in Oklahoma and develop new programs to provide better health care, support and employment opportunities.

“I want to leave this agency in better shape than I found it,” Deering said.

ok.gov

The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs has been ordered to reinstate seven employees who were fired from the Norman Veterans Center for accepting money left to them in a resident's will.

The Norman Transcript first reported that Judge Annita. M Bridges ordered the employees' reinstatement with back pay after an Oklahoman Merit Protection Commission hearing.

Oklahoma State Senator Kimberly David, R-Porter
Oklahoma State Senate

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services heard from four agencies during budget hearings Monday, three of which asked for budget increases.

Subcommittee Chair Sen. Kimberly David said the decrease in the state’s budget would impact the appropriated funds to the agencies.

“The ongoing conversation that we’re going to have is the fact that we have a budget deficit this year. I would be surprised if there were any increases and wouldn’t be surprised if there were any decreases,” she said.

Oklahoma Secretary of Veterans Affairs Rita Aragon
State of Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Rita Aragon, suffered a "mini stroke" Tuesday, a spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

Aragon, who has served as state VA Secretary for four years, has been hospitalized due to the health issue, Alex Weintz, Fallin’s Director of Communications, said.

“They are still doing tests,” Weintz said. “Governor Fallin has visited her in the hospital and is in communication with her family to monitor her progress.”

The Ardmore Veterans Center, one of seven long-term care facilities for wartime veterans. Each center will be opened to peace-time veterans beginning Nov. 1.
Oklahoma Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Administrators from the state’s seven veterans centers spoke to lawmakers Tuesday about the facilities’ needs and for replacement of antiquated infrastructure.

Comments were made during an interim study evaluating Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs facilities at the State Capitol before the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Public Health. Interim Study H14-036 was requested by House Veterans and Military Affairs Committee Chair Gary Banz, R-Midwest City.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

A veterans care bill passed by Congress last week includes more than $13 million in funding to overhaul a Tulsa-based Veterans Affairs clinic.

The funds would allow the Ernest Childers VA Outpatient Clinic the option to either pursue a lease for a new facility or build a new structure.

Before the funding was added to the veterans care reform bill, Oklahoma lawmakers said the clinic would have been forced to either spend money to bring the building up to code or close down by 2020.

U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs / Facebook

Veteran Affairs officials say steady growth in the veteran population and other factors are helping to drive up wait times at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center.

Officials discussed why veterans sometimes face lengthy waits for appointments on Tuesday, a day after a federal audit revealed new patients seeking health care at the Oklahoma City veterans facility waited an average of 44 days for a primary care appointment.

The report by the Department of Veterans Affairs also found that new patients seeking specialty care had to wait about 48 days to be seen in Oklahoma City.

Simon Cunningham / Flickr.com

A newly released audit has found that new patients seeking health care at the Muskogee and Oklahoma City VA hospitals waited an average of 31 and 44 days, respectively, to be seen.

Monday's audit released by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that 464 new patients at the two facilities waited more than 60 days for an appointment.

The audit also found that established patients at both care centers had waits averaging just over two days to be seen.

The Ardmore Veterans Center, one of seven long-term care facilities for wartime veterans. Each center will be opened to peace-time veterans beginning Nov. 1.
Oklahoma Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Residents of Oklahoma's veterans' centers will be allowed to smoke on the property for a few more years under an agreement worked out between Gov. Mary Fallin, state lawmakers and the War Veterans Commission.

The House gave final approval on Wednesday to a bill that would designate all state-operated veterans' centers as nonsmoking effective Jan. 1, but allow the centers to designate outdoor smoking areas for residents until Jan. 1, 2018.

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