Showing posts with label Oklahoma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oklahoma. Show all posts

Friday, March 13, 2020

Founder of Veteran Outreach Program Dealing With Loss Of His Own

Veteran Suicide Hits Home for Founder of Veteran Outreach Program

NBC 2 News
By: Chris DiMaria
Mar 13, 2020
"It broke me down. It broke me down bad. Because I was thinking to myself, if I can't even help my own cousin, how can I help my fellow veterans? I felt like a failure, I felt angry, because why didn't he reach out to me?" Lezama wondered.

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — A Green Country veteran, hoping to save the lives of his fellow vets, was hit by tragedy when he learned his cousin had taken his own life.

Victor Lezama spent 10 years in the Army and 10 years in the Marines, doing two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, his image is to help fellow veterans get back on their feet, by opening The Barracks in Muskogee.

Just before The Barracks were set to open, Lezama's cousin, Gil Ortiz, took his own life. Ortiz was a service member of 17 years, and was a husband and father of three.

"This is a man who was there when my daughter passed away. Our wives were pregnant together," Lezama recalled. "I'm reading through these text messages seeing if there's any kind of clue. A reach out for help or something because he knew what we were doing."
read it here

Victor Lezama, I do not know if you will ever read this or not but I have to try. Wanting to help veterans is a wonderful thing. The problem is, too many want to help, but do not know how to do it. I've been doing this since 1982, so when I say what has to be said, please consider that this is directed to everyone wanting to make a difference.

Stop doing what you are doing until you are honestly prepared to do it. 

Make sure you have all the knowledge you need, before you even decide to do this work. 

Make sure that you have the resources set up in case you get over your head and need to send the veteran for more help than you can give.

Make sure you have your own resources for when you are overwhelmed and need to talk to someone to help you, especially when you lose someone you know.

You also have to face that fact that you will not be able to save all of them. That is something I know all too well when we lost my husband's nephew. I never could find the right words he needed to hear before he would listen to anything else I had to say to him. 

Your cousin knew you were there and it was up to him to ask you for help. It is something that you will never totally let go of, but let that motivate you to keeping on with the work you do so that others willing to seek help will find it.

No matter how many times I read something like this, and the dagger hits my heart all over again emotionally, I do not regret trying to save as many as possible. There is nothing like turning a life around and seeing joy come back into their lives again. If I can help you in anyway, please call 407-754-7526 or email You can also find Point Man International Ministries to help you in your area.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Miracles happen Oklahoma veteran died saving granddaughter

“He was all about that baby and she was all about him,” Grandfather dies after saving 3-year-old granddaughter from house explosion

KFOR 4 News
Kelsey Hill
September 24, 2019

“Just thought about the steep grade of that driveway and just knew and kind of came to the conclusions that they were carried up that driveway you know. It wasn`t him, it wasn`t her something carried them up that driveway." Brendon Osteen

MAUD, Okla. - A grandfather rescued his 3-year-old granddaughter after the home they were in exploded.

Don Osteen was a longtime educator, Army Veteran, and Purple Heart recipient. He spent his life putting others first and would help anyone if they needed it, even a stranger.

Brendon Osteen says his father looked forward to every minute that he could spend with his granddaughter, Paetyn.

"That`s what he was first and foremost I mean he was all about that baby and she was all about him,” said Osteen.

He said his father was 15 to 30 feet away from the front door, lighting a candle next to the stove when the explosion happened.

“He wasn`t worried about himself at all. I'll leave it at that, but save her was the message he was trying to get across and he did exactly that,” said Osteen.
v Osteen suffered a collapsed lung, broken ribs, and severe burns, but he was able to carry Paetyn to safety, even navigating the family’s steep driveway to get help.

“He just got out of the house and headed straight to where he knew help was. He tried to get in his truck and his keys were melted to him. His phone was exploded in his pocket," he said.
read it here

Friday, August 23, 2019

Disabled and decorated 74 year old Vietnam veteran training to be welder to care for wife?

'She deserves the best': Decorated Vietnam veteran, 74, enrolls in welding school to support ailing wife

Tulsa World
By Tim Stanley
August 23, 2019
The school awarded Nelson a full scholarship. “It’s the least we can do. He’s so inspirational,” Hinojosa said. “We owe our freedom to people like him.”

Whenever he has nightmares about Vietnam, David Nelson takes solace in knowing he’s not alone.

His wife, Cynthia, is always by his side.

“I don’t have them as often as I used to,” Nelson said, “but when I do, it’s normally a doozy. And she just lays on me and hugs and kisses me.”

“She’s worth her weight in gold,” he added.

A decorated Vietnam veteran and Army retiree, Nelson is committed to supporting his wife, as well.

Since her diagnosis with cancer, it’s been a challenge. Recently, with the related expenses mounting, the 74-year-old took what seemed like an unlikely leap for his stage of life.

He enrolled at Tulsa Welding School to embark on a new career.
read it here

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Senate Armed Services Committee turning their backs on sexual assault victims...still

Senate committee advances senior general’s nomination despite sexual assault accusations

Military Times
By: Leo Shane III and Joe Gould
July 31, 2019
Hyten’s accuser — Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser — attended the hearing and told reporters afterwards that both the Senate and military officials were turning their backs on sexual assault victims. “You just had a four-star general get up in front of the American people and in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee and make false statements under oath,” she said. “He lied. He lied about sexually assaulting me.”

Senate Armed Services Committee members on Wednesday advanced the nomination of an Air Force general accused of sexually harassing and assaulting an aide, but a full floor vote on his confirmation likely won’t take place for several more weeks.
The Senate Armed Services Committee has advanced the nomination of Air Force Gen. John Hyten to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said his panel members comfortably backed Gen. John Hyten, 20-7, to become the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the second-highest uniformed military post.

“I have no concerns (about Hyten) at all,” he told reporters after the committee vote. “You’re talking about five classified briefings, where every member had every chance to ask every question.”

The nomination of Hyten, the current head of U.S. Strategic Command, has been stalled for weeks as senators wrestled with the allegations of sexual assault. On Tuesday, Hyten spoke publicly about the accusations for the first time during his confirmation hearing, denying any inappropriate behavior.
read it here

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Vietnam Veteran Sgt. Matthew Francis Kelly made a dying wish to his nurse

Strangers invited to funeral for Vietnam veteran who died alone. ‘I wanted to honor his final wishes,’ his nurse said.

Philadelphia Enquirer
by Melanie Burney
July 9, 2019
Kelly left Vietnam in November 1970 and received an honorable discharge, his records show. Little is known about his life after the military. He returned to Philadelphia. Richello said he had a hard life, “and he was one of the forgotten.”

Former Army Sgt. Matthew Francis Kelly made a dying wish to his nurse: He wanted to be buried with full military honors, a parade, bagpipes, and a 21-gun salute.

In death, Kelly will get what he did not receive in life when he returned home to Philadelphia from the Vietnam War nearly 50 years ago. His nurse, Jennifer Richello, has recruited a band of strangers to keep the promise she made to Kelly on his deathbed a few months ago.

“I wanted to honor his final wishes, and love and respect for his service to our country,” Richello, a registered nurse, said in a statement Tuesday. “Kelly was a good man and deserves this.”

Richello also made a special request to mourners: bring a can of Pepsi to the funeral. Kelly loved the soft drink, she said.
After graduating from high school, Kelly enlisted on Jan. 14, 1969, his 20th birthday. He completed training at Fort Bragg, N.C, and Fort Sill, Okla., according to his military record. He was deployed to Vietnam in December 1969 and served as a communications chief in the 13th Battalion Signal, First Cavalry Division.
read it here

Monday, May 6, 2019

Oklahoma veteran with PTSD sent to death by suicide?

Krysten Mischelle Gonzalez served country, sent to jail and suicide

This is one of those stories that I missed. I found it today searching for something else. It is a story that needs to be shared because it is yet one more, among a long list, of things we get oh, so wrong.

Jail inmate waited for mental health treatment bed for months before death

The Oklahoman
January 13, 2019

Krysten Gonzalez, front, prepares to paint a hallway at the City Rescue Mission in 2014. At the time, Gonzalez was a part of a recovery program at the rescue mission. Gonzalez died Tuesday after being found unresponsive at the Oklahoma County jail. 

[Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman Archives]

Editor's note: If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Find more information here.

For nearly three months before she died, Krysten Mischelle Gonzalez sat in an Oklahoma County jail cell while public defenders searched for an inpatient mental health treatment facility that would agree to accept her, the county's chief public defender says.

Gonzalez, 29, was found unresponsive in her cell about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Jail staff performed lifesaving measures before taking her to OU Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead shortly after 5 p.m. The state medical examiner's office has not determined a cause of death, but jail officials say Gonzalez hanged herself.

Gonzalez had been jailed since Oct. 11 on a warrant for failure to appear. The case stems from a June 2017 incident in which an officer responding to a shoplifting call found a baggie containing 0.6 grams of meth in Gonzalez's purse.

A U.S. Army veteran, Gonzalez stated in court papers that she had been treated in the past for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. In November 2017, her Oklahoma County case was transferred to mental health court. As a part of that transfer, Gonzalez agreed to make regular appearances in mental health court. If she violated the terms of the agreement, Gonzalez would be subject to an automatic 10-year prison sentence.
read more here

Monday, March 4, 2019

Oklahoma GriefShare giving what those left behind

A look at suicide: Van Buren’s GriefShare program offers support

Booneville Democrat
By Scott Smith / Times Record
Posted Mar 3, 2019

An individual’s suicide can be such an unpredictable, hard-hitting shock to that person’s loved ones, often causing an uncomfortable, long-lasting cocktail of feelings for those left behind, according to one area individual.

When someone loses a relative or friend to suicide, that person can be overwhelmed by feelings of confusion, sadness, guilt, anger and more, said LaToya Shepherd, an outreach pastor who oversees the GriefShare support program at Heritage Church in Van Buren. The 14-week, faith-based program employs video presentations, testimonies, a workbook and, if the participants are comfortable enough to participate, opportunities to share to help in the healing process, she said.

“There is a lesson that touches upon suicide in this,” Shepherd said of the program, which is held at 3 p.m. Sundays at Heritage Church, 1604 E. Pointer Trail in Van Buren. “And in no way does this lesson condemn the person who committed suicide or the family of that person. Even with the program being Biblically based, the lesson is very helpful and very hopeful. It’s not condemning at all.”

In addition to outlining the GriefShare workbook for participants, Shepherd is able to use her real-life experience to help others cope with their loss and move through the grieving process.

“My former husband tried to commit suicide but wasn’t successful,” she said. “He lived and is now a certified counselor who works in Oklahoma and is helping people.
read more here

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Takedown of veteran in Muskogee questioned

Officials: Veteran's claims of disability are false

Chris DiMaria
January 5, 2019

Lezama says he pulled William's records, finding Williams is 30 percent disabled, as well as his discharge information. "I can speak for all the other organizations when I say none of us condone the behavior of a veteran who exaggerates their status"

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Jason Williams's former company commander in Germany spoke to 2 Works for You and he says Williams's behavior scene on video does not surprise him one bit.
He says he's seen this video of Williams being pepper sprayed by police for not complying, and heard the story Williams gave about being deployed.

He says Williams's claims about an accident in Afghanistan that left him disabled is completely made up.

"He was never ever deployed," Smith said. "He was never involved in any sort of accident while he was in the military. When we drove him to the airport, he walked out of the van and walked into the terminal."

Major Smith who is now in Tampa says Williams was discharged, and when he saw the video he immediately thought back to when he had to make the call.

"The decision we came down to was the longer we had him in the unit, the worse it was for the unit, so we needed to put him out quickly," Smith said.
read more here

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Homeless Veteran William Eugene Weeks Buried with Honor

Oklahoma homeless veteran laid to rest, honored with dignified military services

October 24, 2018

An Oklahoma homeless veteran was laid to rest Wednesday in Oklahoma City. He was given full military honors. Go here for video

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Should not be OK in OK:Crashed internet bad but cell phones good?

State lawmakers allege Veterans Affairs committed HIPAA violation; director calls that 'unfathomable'
Justin Wingerter
Published: Wed, August 8, 2018

Three state legislators have called for the firing of two Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs leaders, alleging they violated federal privacy laws — an allegation the agency's executive director called “unfathomable.”
A resident sits in the hallway in the special needs unit at the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs' Talihina Veterans Center in this photo from 2017. [Photo by Mike Simons, Tulsa World file]
In a letter to Gov. Mary Fallin, Democratic Reps. Brian Renegar, Chuck Hoskin and David Perryman requested Fallin fire Veterans Affairs Executive Director Doug Elliott and clinical compliance director Tina Williams.

The lawmakers claim the crash of internet access and Veterans Affairs software on July 24 prompted Veterans Affairs leadership to order employees at the state's seven care centers to copy patient medical records onto the employees' personal cellphones.

“This is a direct violation of federal HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations,” the legislators told Fallin. They say the alleged HIPAA violation “could jeopardize the millions of federal funding dollars coming to our Oklahoma veterans.”
read more here

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Oklahoma welcomes home 350 Air National Guards

350 Oklahoma Airmen return home after deployment to Afghanistan
FOX 25 News
Jessica Remer
August 6, 2018

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- Family and friends lined up Monday to welcome home 350 Airmen assigned to the 138th Fighter Wing of the Oklahoma Air National Guard.

A sweet homecoming for hundreds of men and women serving our country.

Beneath the stars and stripes a crowd of anxious faces.

All waiting or their loved ones’ return.

Today more than 350 airmen and airwomen coming home from deployment to Afghanistan.
read more here

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Fire Department has baby invasion

Baby boom: Oklahoma newborns and firefighter dads pose for heartwarming photos
CBS News
May 21, 2018

There's a baby boom at a firehouse in Oklahoma. Seven of their bravest not only battle blazes, but also perform daddy duties -- and there are adorable photos to show for it.
Several firefighters at the Glenpool Fire Department have become fathers over the last year. Their wives wanted to commemorate the special occasion with group photos Sunday afternoon -- even if the star subjects didn't always want to cooperate.

"Honestly, it was difficult to get seven babies to cooperate for a picture so we all had some good laughs," Melanie Todd, whose husband is in the department, told CBS News. "We all joked about knowing which kid not to let theirs hangout with."

The idea was the brainchild from one of the firefighters' wives and they waited until the last baby was born, according to Todd.

"After we saw the final pictures, we were excited," she said.

One of the photos show the infants, five girls and two boys, in the arms of their fathers. Another shows the babies sitting on top of their dads' firefighter jackets -- while donning shirts with their last names on them.
read more here

Friday, May 18, 2018

Navy Veteran being evicted FROM HIS OWN PROPERTY?

Veteran kicked out of home by city, says he could be homeless
NBC 2 Tulsa
Travis Guillory
6:17 PM, May 17, 2018

Now, the retired veteran is left in limbo, trying to figure out his next move in life.

He said, "I bought the place so I could retire here and work in my garage to do my piddling and my projects and all that. So, if I have to move this thing out, I really have no other home."
HARTSHORNE, Okla. – A veteran is getting kicked out of his home by the City of Hartshorne.

William Smith has called a camper home for the last eight years on property that he owns. Now, the City of Hartshorne is telling him to pack it all up and find somewhere else to live.

William Smith said, "The hookups were here: water, sewer, and electric. Everything was here. I just figured since I had already been living in my RV and it was mine and it was paid for and I got my property paid for, I thought I was good to go for many many years."

Smith was a Navy radar engineer, constantly moving around. He explained, "To get all of my equipment on an airplane was not a thing that you could really do."

He tinkers in his garage on the property, which is the main reason he bought the land, and generally keeps to himself. So, the veteran was surprised when he got a visit from the cops.
read more here

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Air Force veteran survived 16 years of service, but not Wednesday night

Man Killed In Owasso Officer-Involved Shooting 16-Year Veteran
News On 6
Brian Dorman
March 23, 2018
Duane served in the Air Force for 16 years, completing three tours overseas. Stephanie said those tours changed him.
OWASSO, Oklahoma - As the OSBI continues its investigation into a deadly officer-involved shooting in Owasso Wednesday night, the fiancée of the man killed is speaking out. Stephanie Perdew recounted what started out as a normal day and turned into one that changed her life forever.

"I think that maybe he went out there crying for help. I don't think he thought it was going to be over," said Perdew.

Police were called to Stephanie and Duane Preciado's house Wednesday night. Stephanie said Duane had been drinking and was depressed and called his best friend for help.

"His wife called to have a wellness check done. Duane didn't know the cops were coming. Of course, when you have PTSD it can be triggered at all times, when there's a big knock at the door," Perdew said.
read more here - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Friday, March 23, 2018

Veteran had to call 9-11 from VA emergency room to get help?

Veteran calls 911 from VA emergency room
ABC 25 News
March 22nd 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KFOR/CNN) – A patient at the Oklahoma City, OK, Veterans Affairs hospital says she was so distraught from stomach pain that was going untreated, she called 911 from the emergency room.

Robin Harrison says she went to the VA for a routine appointment, but when she left, she started to feel debilitating stomach cramps.
“[They] literally doubled me over, and I fell on the ground,” Harrison said.

Her doctor sent her down to the ER, where Harrison listed her symptoms for a triage nurse.

“I told her I was in extreme pain, that it felt like I was having labor pains in my stomach,” Harrison said.

The veteran was told to wait, and while waiting, she lay down on a bench.

“I’m starting to cry and moan, and it’s like, ‘I can’t help it. This hurts so bad,’” Harrison said.

Harrison says after about two hours, the pain was too much to bear, so she started going up to the registrar’s desk and asking to be seen sooner. No one came.
read more here

Friday, December 29, 2017

Oklahoma City Vietnam Veterans Memorial Founded Passed Away

Founder of Oklahoma’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial dies two days before Christmas
KOCO 5 News
Paul Folger
December 29, 2017

“He realized there was no place for Vietnam veterans to feel welcome,” Mullings’ son, Jamey McCLaine Mullings, said.
OKLAHOMA CITY — It was a sad day for Vietnam veterans in Oklahoma. The founder and creator of the Vietnam Veteran's Wall has died.

Family and friends said goodbye Thursday to James Michael Mullings, remembering him for the honor he gave to our heroes who served.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial sits just beyond our state capitol. It was created by Mullings, who served in Vietnam himself. The 71-year-old died just two days before Christmas, which was also his birthday. But the legacy of this wall is one everyone can visit.

“He felt very, very called to provide a memorial here because most Oklahomans might not have the opportunity to go to Washington D.C.” Teese Mullings, James Mullings’ wife, said.

Mullings worked with leaders from Washington and our state and came up with the memorial because he knew Vietnam veterans needed the place.
read more here

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Army Veteran Gets Dog Back!

Army Veteran Reunited With Stolen Dog In Time For Christmas
CBS New York
December 26, 2017

(CBS Local) — An Army veteran in Oklahoma was reunited with his missing dog just in time for Christmas. The dog, found on Christmas Eve, was missing for nearly a week after her owner’s house was burglarized on Dec. 20.
“It appeared that they were going to steal my valuables, however they ended up only taking my beautiful dog,” veteran Geoff Hoffman wrote on his Facebook page after the crime. A frantic search for Bridget, the three-year-old pit bull, began as local animal rescue groups and social media users spread the story of the apparent dog-napping. read more here

Monday, December 25, 2017

Yukon Oklahoma Opens Arms for Wounded Veteran's Family

Volunteers Help Make Veteran's Family's Christmas

News On 6
Caleigh Bourgeois
December 23, 2017

“The feeling you get when you get to help somebody else that's in need is just a feeling everybody should experience,” Wade said. 

YUKON, Oklahoma -
A wounded warrior in Yukon and his family were given a Christmas miracle thanks to two friends and several volunteers.

Last week, Jessica Smith with the Red Cross received a phone call from a wounded warrior’s wife.
“He had just lost his job. They had no food in their cupboards. They were about to be evicted,” Smith said.
Determined to help the Yukon family, Smith called up her friend Ellie Wade, who works at First United Bank. 
“We have a fund where if we wear blue jeans on Friday we pay into it, and we collect all year long,” Wade said.
Wade and Smith took the money from that fund and started shopping. 
“We just started buying and paying the rent and utilities, and buying groceries and gifts,” Wade said. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Fort Hood Families Holiday Express to Make Memories

Holiday Express: Train ride a treat for military families

Temple Daily Telegram
Melany Cox
December 3, 2017
“It’s important, because we get a chance to show the military families how much we appreciate all the sacrifices they make for all of us.” Carl Ice, President and CEO of BNSF

Santa hands out Christmas ornaments to the Wagner family during the annual BNSF Holiday Express train ride. Melany Cox Telegram
For the past 10 years, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has honored military families with the Holiday Express train trip, a free, festive train ride for families of servicemen and women. This year the train is making its way through Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri. The tour included a stop in Central Texas.
On Wednesday afternoon nearly 350 members of families stationed at Fort Hood boarded the Holiday Express at the Santa Fe Depot in Temple for a round-trip ride complete with complimentary snacks, hot chocolate and a visit from Santa.
“It’s important, because we get a chance to show the military families how much we appreciate all the sacrifices they make for all of us,” said Carl Ice, President and CEO of BNSF.
The Holiday Express features 15 restored vintage railcars, and is powered by two of BNSF’s newest locomotives. Passengers exclaimed in delight as they boarded the passenger cars, which were lavishly decorated with garland and lights.
read more here 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Stolen Valor to Grow Pot?

Oklahoma Vice: Veterans say pot grower lied about service in Iraq

News OK
Brianna Bailey
September 8, 2017

Command Sgt. Maj. Jared Worley of the  Kansas National Guard drove about three hours from Kansas to refute Constuble's claims about his military service at trial.On the witness stand, Worley testified that, Constuble spent less than two months in Iraq before he was found unfit for service and was sent home.

A Bartlesville man who claimed he grew marijuana to treat post traumatic stress disorder has spent much of the past decade lying about his time in Iraq, according to veterans who served with him.
Austin Eugene Constuble, 31,  told Oklahoma Vice he was forced to kill a special-needs child who insurgents strapped with an artillery shell in Iraq. He said he rescued bleeding children from a bombed out school. He also claimed he had been shot at and was injured by a roadside bomb.
None of those things are true.  
A jury in Washington County this week found Constuble guilty of cultivating marijuana at his grandmother's house and recommended a three year prison sentence.