In “Best salute for veterans,” Gary Kodaseet and Al Patrick (Point of View, June 21) correctly thanked many groups for their support of Senate Bill 629, which is key legislation for reform of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs and the seven veterans centers it operates. An additional group not recognized, but equally important, that worked tirelessly during the legislative session is the veterans living at the vet homes, their families and friends. They did legislative visits, worked the phones, wrote emails and letters to the governor and the Legislature to help pass reform bills.
These bills are a good beginning. However, much work remains to be implemented to remedy a broken state agency. At the top of the legislative to-do list for the next session is increased pay for the direct patient care staff working at the seven homes. A state auditor's report on the ODVA found that employees of the veterans homes were paid only 41 percent of what's paid to workers in similar positions in the states around Oklahoma. This is shameful and should be corrected.
Doing this would be a significant step forward to correct the staffing shortages and improve the quality of care for Oklahoma's veterans living in state veterans homes.
Mike Simmons, Norman
Simmons is a resident of Norman Veterans Center.