Veterans are speaking out about an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Claremore Veterans Center. In the month of July alone, 65 people who live there tested positive for coronavirus, along with 21 staff members. According to the Oklahoma Department of Veteran's Affairs, 10 Claremore Veterans Center residents died this month with COVID-19. Servicemen who work for the Veterans of Foreign Wars said these men and women fought many battles in their lifetime, but the coronavirus shouldn't be one of them.
"Being a veteran of 37 years, 3 wars, it's sad to say that we're losing veterans,” said C.J. Masters, VFW Senior Vice Commander.
Many veterans fought on the frontlines overseas and endured the wages of war. Others dedicated their lives to service in the states. Now, some veterans over at the Claremore Veterans Center are fighting for their own lives.
"They deserve so much better than that and there is no capacity in which that is right," said Paul Seman, Army Veteran. “This COVID stuff is bad all around."
Masters tells News On 6 he isn't one to point fingers, but he said going from an orange to a red risk level in Rogers County is concerning, and they need to get a handle on this outbreak quickly.
"The administration, much like any local government and state government, [needs] to check their policies and adhere to them,” Masters said.
The center said it’s actively checking its policies and are getting things under control. The Claremore Veterans Center is working with the Oklahoma Department of Health and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. They've temporarily converted their third floor to a COVID positive ward for patients with mild symptoms, while others are being treated at local hospitals. Meanwhile, employees who show symptoms or have tested positive are isolating at home. The center said it is following CDC guidelines and not allowing visitors inside. Only, Paul said this separation from the outside world can also be hazardous, as some of them have PTSD, while others have dementia.
“That is definitely going to affect their mental health,” said Paul. "When you shut off someone from their loved ones […] where's the will to go on?"
The VFW said it’s ready to lend a hand to any families affected by the outbreak, whether it be financial or emotional support.