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Local
Veteran describes fear, abuse, neglect at VA
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Veteran describes fear, abuse, neglect at VA

Veteran describes fear, abuse, neglect at VA
Photo Credit: Sue Ogrocki
As his sister and advocate Susan Simmons, right, holds his prepared statement for him, Mike Simmons, left, a military veteran, tells an Oklahoma House interim study committee that he has been physically abused at Oklahoma’s Norman Veterans Center and staff members tried to intimidate him, in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Veteran describes fear, abuse, neglect at VA

A Vietnam Veteran and his family showed up at the state capitol this week to testify before members of the House Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, which is looking into allegations of abuse at veterans centers statewide.

Mike Simmons has Multiple Sclerosis and served as the disabled veteran of the year under Governor Frank Keating.

He says, "I've defended our country and tried to make a difference in our society."

Simmons' disability is getting worse.

His sister Susan says seven years ago he was forced to move into the Norman Veterans Center.

She says, "My brother in the past four plus years has been injured dozens and dozens of times."

The veteran says when he spoke out about abuse by a nurse during a medical procedure, staff members tried to intimidate him.

He says, "Previous administrators tried unsuccessfully to have me evicted from the Norman veteran's center several times for talking to the media."

Despite threats by staff, he says he still wants to live there.

"Chronic understaffing has taken its toll on resident and employees alike. Despite these problems, the Norman Veteran's Center is my home and I want to continue living there."

The veteran says a lot of the current employees care and work hard.

He even lobbied lawmakers to give them a raise and they did.

Simmons says, "The Norman Veteran's Center has many fine employees throughout the facility. I have always been supportive of the good employees there."

The lawmakers are listening to veterans and administrators after an inquiry was requested by two Democratic lawmakers following reports in The Journal Record about suspected abuse at the centers.

Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Wesselhoft says, “I just don’t know how much we can learn from this one situation where there’s been such a turbulent relationship with this one resident.”

 

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