The Veterans Administration Medical Center in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City VA Medical Center / Facebook

Federal investigators are looking into allegations of poor patient care at the Veterans Administration’s Medical Center in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City VA Health Care spokeswoman Stacy Rine told The Oklahoman the investigation came after an in-depth national newspaper story about inadequate care and incorrect diagnoses of five patients at the facility.

Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit attached to Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion 4th Marines (BLT 1/4) and Combat Logistics Battalion 15 (CLB-15) stand at “parade rest” during a 235th United States Marine Corps birthday ceremony.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Russell / U.S. Naval Forces, 7th Fleet Public Affairs

After serving in the U.S. military, many veterans use the benefits afforded under the GI Bill to pay for school. The opportunity to have education paid for is a major draw for some, but the military isn’t a good fit for everyone.

Jared Kuntz joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2008 after trying a few different majors at the University of Oklahoma, and firefighter training, hoping he would find a career. Then the 2008 recession hit, the job prospects disappeared and the military seemed like his best option.

This week, NPR reported that the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to live up to a promise to contact 4,000 veterans who were exposed to mustard gas in secret military experiments. In 1993, the VA promised it would reach out to each of those veterans to let them know that they were eligible for disability benefits. Instead, over the past 20 years, the VA reached out to only 610.

When former Mother Jones reporter Mac McClelland was diagnosed with PTSD after witnessing another woman’s horror at being brutally assaulted in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, she didn’t believe it. After all, it was the Haitian who was assaulted, not her.

A lot of readers agreed after McClelland wrote an essay about her diagnosis in 2011. They were outraged that the 32-year-old journalist should be seen as a victim.

Maj. Gen. Myles Deering

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.

Veterans groups continue to criticize U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) for objecting to a bill intended to reduce a suicide among military veterans.

Coburn defended his actions on the floor of the chamber, saying the bill would not accomplish its stated goal and duplicates programs that already exist.

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.

House Panel Hears About Veteran Suicides

Oct 16, 2014

Oklahoma Mental Health Commissioner Terri White outlined veterans suicide statistics for a house panel Tuesday. White says nearly one in four suicides in Oklahoma involved a veteran in 2011. 

White pointed to a program operated by the U.S. Air Force which significantly reduced suicides among the military, offering prove that suicide prevention efforts work. The Department of Mental Health plans to seek an additional one million dollar appropriation next year to implement suicide prevention programs. 

Look At This: Portrait Of A Homeless Veteran

Sep 19, 2014

A few weeks ago, photographer David Gilkey and I went to an event for homeless veterans called Stand Down. We wanted to see what homeless veterans look like, and we wanted to photograph them.

We also wondered: How do they see themselves? We asked about 20 of them — that's how many came by our pop-up portrait studio. You can hear from some of them in the audio above, or just look at this.

WWI Poet's Diaries Now Online

Aug 5, 2014

As Britain marks the 100th anniversary of its entry into World War I, the notebooks of one of the country’s most famous war poets are being published for the first time.

Siegfried Sassoon served on the Western Front and he recorded his experiences in small diaries that are filled with sketches and anecdotes that express the horrors of World War I, the so-called Great War.

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

State Rep. and gubernatorial nominee Joe Dorman wants to examine the quality of care for veterans in Oklahoma.

House Speaker Jeff Hickman approved the interim legislative study by the Rush Springs Democrat and three other bipartisan co-sponsors.

Dorman says state budget cuts and the potential loss of federal matching funds will be key to this fall's study. He plans to ask for testimony from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.

Medill DC / Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. Sen Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) says a new report will expose more weaknesses at Veterans Affairs Department hospitals, including disappearing doctors and staff members.

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.

VA Pays Out $200 Million in Wrongful-Death Cases

Apr 9, 2014

In Oklahoma, data obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting shows that in 23 wrongful-death cases filed in the decade after 9/11 related to the VA hospital in Oklahoma City, the VA paid out more than $3.6 million to families. In six cases filed during that decade related to the VA center in Muskogee, the VA paid out more than $715,000 to families. At both facilities, allegations included failure to treat, diagnose or monitor; using improper techniques or wrong procedures, and failure or delay in admission or referral.

The Woodring Wall of Honor and Veterans Park, Inc. is a living memorial to veterans, past and present. The park is located at Woodring Regional Airport in Enid. Oklahoma. Memorial Day Ceremonies are held each year to honor Oklahoma heroes.
Woodring Wall of Honor and Veterans Park, Inc.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is joining with a former prisoner of war to dedicate a wall commemorating Vietnam veterans on Monday.

Fallin and Col. Lee Ellis will give speeches at the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial Wall at Enid's Woodring Regional Airport. Ellis was a former Vietnam prisoner of war for more than five years with Sen. John McCain.

The wall is a smaller replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.