Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs

Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs
Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs
Oklahoma DVA logo.jpg
Department of Veterans Affairs logo
Agency overview
Formed May 13, 1981
Preceding agency Soldiers Relief Commission
Headquarters Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Employees 1,926 classified
26 unclassified
Annual budget $48 million
Ministers responsible Rita Aragon, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Jay Bjorgo, Chair of the Commission
Agency executive Martha Spear, Executive Director
Parent agency War Veterans Commission

The Oklahoma Department of Veteran Affairs (ODVA) is a department of the state of Oklahoma under the supervision of the Oklahoma Secretary of Veterans Affairs charged with providing medical and rehabilitative services for veterans and their families.

The Department is governed by a nine member War Veterans Commission, who members are appointed by the Governor, with the approval the Oklahoma Senate for three year terms. The Governor appoints members from names submitted by the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. The Commission in turn appoints the Executive Director of the Department, who serve at the pleasure of the Commission and is responsible for administration of the Department.

The Department was created in 1981 during the term of Governor George Nigh as a successor to the Soldiers Relief Commission.


Mission and History

The Veterans Affairs Department is charged with ensuring all Oklahoma veterans and their families receive all possible benefits and provide health services and long-term skilled care in a residential environment to all qualified veterans residing in the state. These services includes nursing and domiciliary care, financial assistance in emergencies, and field service counseling in the filing of claims for United States Department of Veterans Affairs and state benefits.

The Oklahoma Legislature created the Soldiers Relief Commission in 1947. It was later replaced by the Department in 1981.


The Department is administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, currently Rita Aragon, and the Department's Executive Director, currently Martha Spear. Oversight for the Department is provided by the nine member Oklahoma War Veterans Commission.

War Veterans Commission

The Department of Veterans Affairs is administered under such rules, regulations and policies as may be prescribed by the nine-member War Veterans Commission. The members of the Commission are appointed by the Governor of Oklahoma, with the approval of the Oklahoma Senate, from a list of names submitted by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans. Four members are selected from the American Legion, three from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and two from the Disabled American Veterans. Three members of the Commission must be Vietnam War veterans. All members serve three year terms.

As of 2010, the members of the War Veterans Commission are as follows:

  • Chairman Wesley Hull - Disabled American Veterans
  • Vice Chairman Ray Penrod - The American Legion
  • Secretary Dean Derieg - Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Michael Taylor - The American Legion
  • Art Besa - The American Legion
  • Jay Bjorgo - Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Jerry Riley - Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Dennis Parrott - Disabled American Veterans

Currently, one member of the Commission is vacant. The seat will be held by a member of the American Legion.



The Department is funded primarily from three sources: yearly appropriations, patient fees, and federal funding. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs provides the Department a federal per diem payment per veteran in each Department Veterans Center. Each of the three funding sources makes up roughly one-third of the total budget of the Department.


The Department has annual budget of just over $130 million. The vast majority of that budget (over $100 million) was dedicated to employee salaries and benefits.[1]


  • War Veterans Commission
    • Executive Director
    • State Accrediting Agency - administratively attached only, responsible for approving criteria for veterans' professional and educational assistance needs
      • Deputy Director
        • Chief Financial Officer - responsible for overseeing all finances of the Department
        • Claims and Benefits Manager - responsilbe for providing as complete rehabilitation as possible to disabled veterans and their dependents
          • Lawton Claims Office
          • Muskogee Claims Office
          • Oklahoma City Hospital Office
          • Muskogee Hospital Office
          • Tulsa Hospital Office
        • Regional Veterans Centers Administrators - responsible for providing medical, nursing and domiciliary care to veterans
          • Ardmore Veterans Center
          • Claremore Veterans Center
          • Clinton Veterans Center
          • Norman Veterans Center
          • Sulphur Veterans Center
          • Tahlihina Veterans Center
        • Administrative Programs Officer - responsible for overseeing the central administrative and personnel operations of the Department
          • Program Administrator (Construction) - responsible for overseeing all construction by the Department
          • Program Administrator (Safety) - responsible for overseeing all public safety issues for the Department
          • Program Administrator (Information Technology) - responsible for overseeing technology use by the Department
          • Program Administrator (Human Resources) - responsible for overseeing all human resource issues for the Department

Claims and Benefits

The Claims and Benefits Division provides many different services to the veterans and their dependents. The primary function is to assist veterans and their dependents with their claims before the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Claims worked through the Muskogee, Oklahoma Claims Office help claimants obtain compensation and pension benefits. Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Service Officers and Claims Officers are accredited with a number of service organizations in order to better represent the claimant with their claims and appeals. The Claims Officers will assist in the appeals process, and if necessary, represent the claimant at a personal hearing before the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Hearing Officer. The Muskogee Claims Office handles lifetime hunting & fishing permits, special veterans license plates, and the Financial Assistance Program.


The Veterans Affairs Department, with an annual budget of over $130 million, is one of the largest employers of the State. For fiscal year 2010, the Department was authorized 1,998 full time employees.[2]

Division Number of Employees
Administration 35
Claims and Benefits 32
Nursing Care 1,926
State Accrediting Agency 5
Total 1,998

See also


  1. ^ Fiscal Year 2011 State Budget, Oklahoma Office of State Finance
  2. ^ FY 2011 State Budget, Oklahoma Office of State Finance

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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