To the Editor:
I just viewed a short video done by Brig. Gen. Steve Ritchie who recounts the rescue of downed Vietnam pilot RogerLocher in April 1972. Ritchie said that Loche’s rescue was the farthest behind enemy lines and superceded all air operations that day. It worked. When I viewed this story, it reminded of the reasons why every veteran is so important to our country and our state. The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs and the War Veterans Commission are fighting legislative reforms by claiming the O.D.V.A. can police itself; it has done so in the past; that others don’t get what they do. The W.V.C. oversees the O.D.V.A. and its seven Oklahoma veterans homes.
I would submit that the W.V.C. and O.D.V.A. have lost their way. I find it incredible that these two groups ignore all the news stories last year and months of legislative testimony about huge problems at the seven vet homes it operates. The evidence proves the O.D.V.A. and W.V.C. are broken.
This week, the House Veterans Affairs committee voted unanimously for SB 629, which is the first meaningful O.D.V.A. reform bill. The next vital bill approved by the Senate is SB 235. This bill reforms the W.V.C. by requiring it to protect veteran residents by directing it to formulate rules and regulations that parallel federal and state long-term nursing home laws.
Like the Locher rescue, the Legislature should pull out all the stops to rescue the veterans in an ailing system.
A yes vote for SB 235 will help reform the War Veterans Commission.
Norman Veterans Center
MIKE SIMMONS is a former Edmond resident.