LAWTON (KFDX/KJTL) — Families with loved ones at the Lawton-Fort Sill Veterans Center are speaking out against the facility. They’re accusing faculty and staff at the center of abuse and neglect. This comes after family members noticed health problems via video chat and were not notified by Lawton-Fort Sill Veterans Center officials.
Family members said they’ve reached out to all government leadership with no response, and they said this is not the way those who fought for freedom should be treated.
“We need the state officials to get off their butts and get something done,” resident Brian Bohn said.
Bohn’s father lives at the Lawton-Fort Sill Veterans Center, and he said he believes residents there are neglected and abused.
“Due to his fingernails being ungroomed, unkept, dirty, he scratched himself and he sustained a staff infection,” Bohn said.
Bohn isn’t alone.
Sue Forbis’ husband, Danny, stays at the VA center. She has a security camera in his room, and she said he’s sometimes left in the hallway.
“They’ve left him 35 hours, 36 hours, 18.5 hours, 24 hours, 20 hours,” Forbis said. “I’ve got it on my monitor he never saw his bed for that amount of time.”
Fran Gibbs’ husband, James, is there, too, and she believes these veterans deserve more.
“I don’t care if I take my husband home; I will still fight for these guys,” Gibbs said. “These are my husband’s brothers and sisters, and they do not deserve it. I will fight until the day I die.”
These loved ones believe a lot of it has to do with staffing.
“I’ve seen a lot of angels there, and I’ve seen a lot of frustrated staff members because they don’t have enough help,” concerned resident Lilly Fisher said.
Fisher can’t fathom the effects six years at the center has had on her dad.
“He walked in there, as soon as he walked in there, they we’re putting him in a wheelchair,” Fisher said. “He doesn’t walk today. In March, he was 152 lbs; today he’s 137 [lbs].”
These veteran wives and children are worried about a downward spiral.
“Due to COVID, we’re not allowed back in the facility,” Bohn said. “We are the ones that help feed our family members, that help bathe our family members, that help groom our family members. We aren’t allowed back in this facility. When the caretaker’s not allowed in, this happens.”
“One time it was five days, I told them he was sick, it was five days before they sent him to the hospital,” Forbis said.
A cry for help as these family members look to state leaders.
Texoma’s Homepage reached out to Oklahoma Veterans Affairs, the public information officer released a statement Thursday morning.
“On Monday, several images were posted on social media purporting to depict mistreatment of veterans in the Lawton/Fort Sill Veterans Center. Likewise, allegations were made in the same social media post claiming that the Lawton/Fort Sill Veterans Center is inadequately staffed. The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs is unwavering in our commitment to our heroes in the Lawton/Fort Sill Veterans Center, and we take all such claims very seriously.
These allegations are under investigation. On the matter of staffing, without question, the Lawton/Fort Sill Veterans Center has current vacancies for which we are actively recruiting, however, we applaud the efforts of the Veterans Center staff who are working longer and harder to ensure that the needs of our veterans are met.”