OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO) – Governor Mary Fallin announced the official kickoff of the Oklahoma Veterans Pilot Program, a private/public initiative to develop a comprehensive healthcare access and delivery system for the state's veterans. The system will cover healthcare services in mental health, home health, nursing care, rehabilitative services, and coordinated access to physician services, laboratory services, pharmacy services and tele-health capability.
"Many Oklahoma veterans are unable to access the health services that they need and deserve," said Fallin. "Delivery of health services for a diverse veteran's population is a complicated matter. There are many reasons for this, including service restrictions that exist within the current system, lack of coverage opportunities, roadblocks and red tape that slows the process, and service delivery models that do not address specific veteran needs."
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Myles Deering, a former adjutant general of the Oklahoma National Guard who also serves as executive director of the Veterans Affairs Department, said the Oklahoma Secretary of Veterans Affairs Council will look into other issues involving homelessness, education and training, employment and volunteerism.
Retired Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon, who serves as Fallin's liaison for veterans' affairs, is honorary chairperson of the steering committee, and former Gov. George Nigh is special adviser. Pete Reed, who served as executive director of the Department of Veterans Affairs during Nigh's administration, is coordinator of the veterans' pilot project.
"The primary areas of concern for this effort will include home health, mental health, nursing home and hospice care for veterans," Reed said. "The overarching focus of the program, however, is to look at the entire veterans' healthcare system and comprehensively examine such areas as barriers to care, access to physicians, underserved populations and needed policy changes."