Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: January 31, 2013
Sen. Frank Simpson
Sen. Simpson disappointed in ODVA testimony
On Thursday, the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA)
was among seven state agencies to testify before the Appropriations
Subcommittee on Health and Human Services during the committee’s
second budget and performance hearing. Sen. Frank
Simpson said he was greatly disappointed by the changes made
by ODVA to address problems discovered within the agency and at
the state’s seven veteran centers during last year’s
ODVA Executive Director John McReynolds testified that he believed
the agency’s problems stemmed from a lack of leadership so
they had decided to promote a handful of individuals into leadership
positions and raise administrative salaries.
"I am very disappointed in the proposal ODVA made during our
Senate budget meeting. The entire focus of their presentation was
on adding administrative positions and increasing the salaries of
upper management,” said Simpson, R-Springer. “Nowhere
in their presentation did I see anything that would have a positive
impact on the care our veterans receive in our state centers. They
seem to just be shuffling the deck but dealing the same old hand."
The Senate Veterans Committee Chair was also appalled to learn that
ODVA has one of the worst records among all the state agencies when
it comes to employing veterans. Of ODVA’s approximately 2,100
employees, there are only 19 service officer positions that are
required to be veterans. No other ODVA positions have that requirement.
“The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs should be setting
the bar when it comes to employing veterans, yet they have hardly
any on their staff and aren’t doing anything to reach out
to them. They depend on filling positions from within the agency
so veterans rarely hear about employment opportunities,” said
Simpson. “What’s worse is there seems to be no plan
in place within ODVA to start actively reaching out to veterans.
This is an issue that must be changed immediately.”
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Rita Aragon pointed out that the unemployment
rate of veterans compared to civilians is three to one. She said
she knows many veterans who are certified healthcare professionals
looking for employment but they just are not being made aware of
the available jobs within ODVA.
All of the documents provided by ODVA to the Senate committee are
available online on the new Senate Appropriations website at http://appropriations.oksenate.gov/
by selecting “Health and Human Services” and then “Department
of Veterans Affairs”.
For more information contact:
Sen. Simpson: (405) 521-5607