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Major General (Retired) Myles Deering
Major General (Retired) Myles L. Deering was appointed as the Oklahoma Secretary of Veterans Affairs and as the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs on Feb. 2, 2015.
General Deering came to the Oklahoma Department of Veterans affairs after serving for six years as The Adjutant General for the Oklahoma National Guard and as the Secretary of the Military on the cabinets of Gov. Brad Henry and Gov. Mary Fallin. His military service spanned a period from Oct. 5, 1971, through Jan. 31, 2015, culminating in over 43 years of military service.
Colonel Doug Elliott currently serves as the Deputy Director for the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs. He was selected by MG Myles Deering and began this new role on July 1, 2015. Colonel Elliott is responsible for the operation of seven veterans homes and five separate claims offices consisting of approximately 2,200 employees with a yearly budget of approximately 140 million dollars.
Veterans Services and Programs Director
Rob serves as the Veterans Services and Programs Director. He is a native Oklahoman and has been involved in Military and Veteran's issues for over 30 years. Rob is responsible for addressing veterans issues including education, employment, mental health, homelessness, and suicide prevention.
Public Information Officer
Duties performed by Shane as the Public Information Officer include: coordinating media requests, social media updates, website maintenance, public speaking, photography, and he is the main contact for anyone that would like more information on ODVA. Shane says this is the most fulfilling job he's ever had because "I am at the service of Oklahoma's Heroes. What can be more gratifying than that?"
Chief Financial Officer
Shantha Varahan currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer for Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs. She has the unique blend of extensive budgeting, auditing and accounting experience. Shantha is a member of the Oklahoma Society of CPAs.
State Claims and Benefits Manager
Jackie G. Whitten Jr. joined the ODVA in 2013 as a Veterans Field Service Officer and was appointed the State Claims and Benefits Manager July 1st, 2015. Prior to his career with the ODVA, Jackie served in the U.S. Air Force from 1989 to 2010. He served as a Medic, Paramedic and Independent Duty Medic. He deployed in the first Gulf War and then again multiple times in the recent Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. He retired as a Master Sergeant.
Veterans Education and Training Director
Beki serves as the Veterans Education and Training Director. She is an advocate for students at Oklahoma universities and Career Techs. Beki is passionate about assisting veterans with their educational endeavors.
Veterans Mental Health Liaison
John L. Wilson was appointed as the ODVA Veterans Mental Health Programs Administrator in October 2015 and is officed at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. He is working to ensure the 340,000 veterans who reside in Oklahoma are informed about and make greater use of the mental health services that are available to them.
Tina Williams, RN, BSN, CLNC, LNHA
Clinical Compliance Director
Tina serves as the Clinical Compliance Director for the seven State Veterans Homes. She has over 30 years of health care experience ranging from acute care to the long-term care setting. She has successfully assisted facilities with the completion of CMS-directed Quality Improvement plans, achieving substantial regulatory compliance after threats of losing licensure, achieving Medicare Certifications, and removal from special focus lists.
Construction Programs Administrator
Dorita has served as the Construction Programs Administrator since October 2010 and began her career with the State of Oklahoma on September 21, 2009 as a Programs Representative with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. She is passionate about fully understanding all facets of the project needs and delivering solutions that are within the budgetary limitations while improving the built environment and quality of life for our resident veterans.
Quality Assurance/Safety Programs Administrator
Lisa has served as ODVA’s Quality Assurance and Internal Review Programs Administrator since March 2011. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma and a Master of Business Administration degree with a specialization in International Management from Nova Southeastern University. Lisa is passionate about identifying inefficiencies in processes to improve operating efficiencies.
Human Resources Director
Tamara serves as the Human Resource Director for the agency. Tamara holds a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University and current license as a Long Term Care Administrator. She has over 27 year’s experience in Oklahoma state human resource management with over 20 of those years with ODVA. Tamara is committed to the recruitment of qualified staff who are passionate for the veterans of our state.
Lori Kennedy, R.N.
Staff Training and Education Program Administrator
Lori is currently a staff development specialist in LTC, dementia care specialist instructor, certified in virtual reality dementia from OU Geriatrics, and MDS-RAC CT. She has developed curricula, conducted regulatory, quality control, and infection control training, and maintains the Quality Workforce for Oklahoma’s Heroes program.
Nicole serves the agency in the role of legislative liaison. Her primary focus is to facilitate communication on important veteran legislative issues with elected officials at both the state and federal levels.
Inventory Control Program Administrator
Master Chief Kelley retired from the US Navy after 30 years of active duty. He served as a field corpsman with the US Marine Corps and as the sole medical person on submarines achieving the rank of Command Master Chief. Master Chief Kelley holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Southern Illinois University in Work Force Education, a Master’s Degree from the University of Oklahoma in Human Relations and is a licensed nursing home administrator. Master Chief Kelley is responsible for inventory management automation and various other nursing home operations program assessments and improvements.
Safety Programs Administrator
Michelle has been employed at the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs since 1991, first at the Claremore Center before transferring to the Norman Center and, now, to the Central Office. Through her employment with the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Michelle hopes to continue providing excellent service to Oklahoma Veterans and the employees that provide our Veterans excellent care.
Employment Programs Administrator
Colonel (Retired) Warren Griffis comes to our agency with the experience of creating a successful military and veterans employment coordination program for the Oklahoma National Guard. He has a track record of assisting veterans find exceptional employment and creating long-lasting employer partnerships.
His focus includes: identifying military and veterans employment resources in Oklahoma, building employer partnerships, leveraging stakeholder alliances, implementing and sharing best practices, and identifying training and education toward obtaining new careers.