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.
The Senate and House’s Veterans and Military Affairs Committees heard Tuesday what the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs has done and hopes to do to address staffing and related issues, particularly at it seven veterans centers.
“There is no easy answer here,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs retired Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon said at the conclusion of the meeting.
ODVA staff testified that they have embarked on a plan to convert patient care staff from classified to unclassified positions, are working on ways to address salary and training issues.
Oklahoma veterans and active-duty military personnel are killing themselves at twice the rate of civilians, despite increased efforts to address the problem.
The 2011 suicide rate for soldiers was about 44 per 100,000 population, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis of Oklahoma State Department of Health data. This rate includes active-duty military as well as veterans from the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea and World War II. The civilian rate for people over the age of 18 was about 22 per 100,000.
Hardin’s study focuses on ODVA’s request to declassify certain positions in veteran’s centers. The request was previously approved by a committee but due to its legislative nature, Hardin requested the study.
A defense attorney says an Oklahoma prosecutor is offering a plea deal to a former physician assistant at the Claremore Veterans Center charged in the neglect-related deaths of two elderly patients.
Trevor Reynolds, who represents 60-year-old Kenneth Adams, says the offer was made Wednesday at a hearing in the case in Rogers County District Court. Reynolds declined to disclose the plea offer and says he first needs to discuss it with his client.
The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Mykel Fry, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.