The waiting list is long. Sometimes patients wait a year to be admitted. But Chuck Myers will tell you that the wait is worth it.

Myers has been a patient at the Claremore Veterans Center since December 1988, shortly after the center started admitting patients in June of that year. Myers, a Korean War veteran who had never lived in this area before, fell in love with Green Country when he came for a visit.

“I was on the waiting list before the center ever opened,” said the soft-spoken veteran, who spent three years in the Marine Corps and 14 months on active duty. “It was a new facility and I had never been in this part of the country before.”

Although his daughters, who lived in California at the time, tried to persuade Myers to enter a facility there, he refused. “I visited a veteran’s center in Bakersfield. The people’s attitude was ‘Why are you here bothering us? You shouldn’t be taking up our time.’ Their attitudes were sour. I felt lost,” said Myers, who moved here from Nevada.

Myers found the exact opposite at the Claremore Veterans Center. “They are friendly. They take you on tours of the facility. They are super nice to everybody,” he said.

“A friend in a Barstow, California veteran’s center told me that their facility was voted number three in the nation,” said Myers, “and then he said, ‘Why don’t you go to Claremore, it’s been voted number one.’”

Myers will tell you from his own 18-year experience as a resident of Claremore’s Veteran Center that “it feels like home.”

“Everyone is so nice. The facility is nice and we have activities everyday,” he said.

Residents can play bingo or dominos or get involved in fishing tournaments held in the summer. A two-acre stocked pond offers residents a place to fish as well as spend time watching the geese and ducks that have decided to call the place home.

Sherry Baca, Myer’s daughter, says that her father is blessed to live here. “There are sidewalks around the pond so residents and their families can take a walk and watch the four seasons change.”

Having sidewalks around the small pond is a welcome addition for those veterans, like Myers, who are wheelchair bound.

Baca, who resides in California, is moving to Claremore to be closer to her father. After her house is remodeled and made handicapped accessible, her father will be allowed to visit overnight four days per month.

Although Myers, along with the other veterans, has these privileges, he will tell you that the activities at the center keep him pretty busy.

Twice a month, veterans are transported to one of the area casinos. When Myers is not visiting the casino, playing blackout bingo, fishing or involved in a domino tournament, he serves on the Patient Council.

The Patient Council addresses concerns that veterans at the center may have. “They feel like they have a voice,” said Baca.

Baca also likes the fact that families are always welcome to visit or call anytime, day or night, to check on their relatives. “I always get the information I need when I call to check on him. If he’s not doing well, they tell me,” she said.

“They take great care of him,” she added. “He doesn’t end up with bed sores like he might if he were at some of the other places.”

Volunteers from various organizations also assist the center’s staff with veterans’ needs. “The volunteers are as good as gold,” said Myers. “They keep it lively. They tease the residents. Without the volunteers, this would be a different place.”

Baca is not only grateful to the volunteers but knows that her father is blessed to be in the Claremore Veterans Center.

“This place has kept up his spirits. I don’t have to worry about him,” she said. “He has been here for 18 years and he has never been depressed to the point that he didn’t want to live.”

This Week's Circulars