Thursday, June 22, 2023

State Rep. Grego blasts news of Talihina Veterans Center closure

Grego Blasts News of Talihina Veterans Center Closure

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 22nd) – Rep. Jim Grego, R-Wilburton, today expressed his anger after receiving news that the Oklahoma Veterans Commission voted 5-0 to close the Talihina Veterans Center, effective immediately.

"This means 36 families have just 90 days to find a place to care for their loved ones," Grego said. "This is a disruption and a disgrace to these veterans who faithfully sacrificed and served our nation and to their families who want to keep their loved ones nearby."

Grego said he and the families of the veterans housed at the Talihina Veterans Center were totally blindsided by the news. There had been talk of leaving the Talihina center open until a new veterans center is completed in Sallisaw. The opening for that center is at least 18 months away, however, and the date of completion has been pushed back multiple times since the center was first bid in August 2020, Grego said. Just this year, the Legislature appropriated an additional $10.8 million towards completion of the center to meet rising construction costs.

"This has proven to be a disaster," Grego said. "Our Veterans Commission and the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs should be focused solely on taking care of our veterans and their family members, but this latest move fails them."

Grego said he's reached out to the governor's office expressing his disappointment as the governor has been in charge of appointing members to the commission. Grego's office also has been in contact with the ODVA. He said he's been told veterans can be placed into private care, but there's a question over who will pay for this. Other than that, they may be moved across the state to other veterans centers.

Grego has been working to keep the Talihina Veterans Center open since he was first elected to legislative office in 2017. He said this latest news feels like the rug has been pulled out from under him and the constituents he serves.

"It's beyond frustrating," he said.

Jim Grego serves District 17 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes Latimer County and part of Pittsburg County.


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