Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
VA Secretary honors Tulsa Mayor’s Veteran Advisory Council
April 19, 2019
In 2009, the city of Tulsa established a Mayor’s Veteran Advisory Council to bring military members and veteran service organizations in the community together and to have a direct line to the Mayor on issues concerning Veterans.
Today, the council has grown to 99 members, which includes the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System and Muskogee VA Regional Office. It meets the third Thursday of the month at VFW Post 577, which gives members an opportunity to share information, combine resources, and network to better serve Veterans in the city of Tulsa and the surrounding communities.
On April 18, VA staff from the Veterans Experience Office visited Tulsa to attend the council meeting and present a Certificate of Appreciation from VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
“I am here today on behalf of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to thank those of you who are either members of this council or support the council,” said Jim Wartski, Executive Director for Veteran, Family and Community Engagement with the Veterans Experience Office, in a speech to the advisory council.
“There’s a lot that can happen in Washington, D.C. but the best, most tangible, and most important work, caring for Veterans, happens right here at the local level. The Tulsa Mayor’s Veteran Advisory Council has proven that. I’m told that council members take active roles to improve the experiences of Veterans, including supporting suicide prevention initiatives, homeless Stand Downs, care packages for deployed troops, and Vietnam Veterans commemoration ceremonies.”
Sandra Oxford, who has chaired the advisory council since 2010, said the ability to network and meet people face-to-face is a vital function of the advisory council.
“So much work can be accomplished to help a Veteran when you know who you are talking to,” said Oxford.
Oxford said the recognition from the VA Secretary not only means a lot to the council members, but will inspire them to continue to positively affect the lives of Veterans in Tulsa.
“To have someone like Secretary Wilkie acknowledge the hard work and commitment of our members, I think it tells each and everyone of them that they are appreciated,” she said. “Every member is dedicated to making the council successful. They have committed themselves to being here, bringing information and working hand-in- hand with each other. I would personally like to thank Secretary Wilkie and the staff from the Veterans Experience Office for adding to our enthusiasm and inspiration to help Veterans.”
Since 2015, the Veterans Experience Office has fostered and supported local Community Veterans Engagement Boards throughout the country, in collaboration with local VA leaders. There are currently 155 boards across the country.
The Veterans Experience Office also launched the Veteran-Friendly Communities initiative in 2015 to recognize the work of Community Veterans Engagement Boards such as the Tulsa Mayor’s Veteran Advisory Council.
“At the end of the day, it’s not the VA experience that matters most, it’s the Veteran’s experience,” said Wartski. “Thank you for fostering a ‘Veteran-friendly Community’ to make lasting change in the lives of our Veterans and their families. And thank you for your continued partnership with local VA Directors across the Veterans Health Administration, Veterans Benefits Administration, and National Cemetery Administration to ensure service members, Veterans, families, caregivers, and survivors receive the care and benefits they deserve.”
Caption: Veronica Jackson-Patrick (third from left), Program Analyst with the Veterans Experience Office, presents a Certificate of Appreciation from VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to the Tulsa Mayor’s Veteran Advisory Council on April 18. Also in photo (left to right) is Jonathan Plasencia, Associate Director of Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, Mark E. Morgan, Director of Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, Sandra Oxford (third from right), Chair of the Tulsa Mayor’s Veteran Advisory Council, Amy Brown, Deputy Mayor of the City of Tulsa, and Jason McClellan, Director of the Muskogee VA Regional Office.
The Tulsa Mayor’s Veteran Advisory Council meets the third Thursday of the month at VFW Post 577.