Lankford, Inhofe, Mullin Respond to VA Report about Proposed Changes at the Muskogee VA
WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) today offered the following joint statement after a report was released by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in which recommendations are made to “modernize and realign” the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee (for eastern Oklahoma recommendations, see pages 72-74 of the VISN-19 Market Recommendation Report):
“It’s appropriate for the VA to conduct reviews like this to ensure we continue to serve veterans in the best ways possible, but we are not convinced that the contents of this report accurately reflect the needs of veterans’ health care, especially mental health, in our state right now. The arrangement for the expansion of the facility in Tulsa assumed we would increase mental health and substance abuse for our veterans, not contract it as this proposal suggests. The need for direct access to mental health and behavioral health for veterans in our state has only increased. We are concerned that the report’s recommendation to move care to the surrounding community cannot accommodate this influx until a behavioral health hospital is completed. We are committed to veterans’ access to quality healthcare and will continue to assess the full impacts of this report to see what is in the best interest of our Oklahoma veterans. We just received this report, and there will be many questions that need to be answered before going forward.”
The report recommends moving inpatient veteran-specific mental from the Muskogee VA into the community until the second phase of the CHIP-IN project—a behavioral health hospital—is completed.