OKLAHOMA CITY – A state of the art holistic health and fitness center is one of the projects recommended to receive American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds by the Oklahoma House and Senate Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding. The committee proposed spending $22.1 million for the project that will benefit first responders, Oklahoma National Guard members and other military servicemen and women.
The project, along with others, will be considered when the Legislature reconvenes it's special session to appropriate ARPA funds.
"This center provides a place for our first responders, including our National Guard, to go for mental and physical health treatments," said Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City. "Many of these frontline workers deal with post-traumatic stress issues and need a facility tailored to their specific needs. This state of the art facility is going to allow us to take care of the men and women who serve our state every day. Getting projects like this passed is just another reason I'm proud to serve in the House of Representatives and the Oklahoma National Guard."
According to the project description submitted to the joint committee, COVID-19 led to a spike in the already hindered mental health of soldiers, airmen and first responders. The project would bring together the synergy of an all-state holistic approach to its treatment. Services provided will extend across the physical and mental domains including nutritional and sleep in order to deliver a holistic approach to mental health.
“Military members and first responders are owed a debt of gratitude and it is our obligation to take care of them," said Sen. Chuck Hall, R-Perry. "Whether they are suffering with a mental or physical health condition, or need a safe outlet, away from their peers to talk with someone, this health and fitness center will be a safe outlet for them. I appreciate the individuals who put this proposal together and for the members of the committee for having the wisdom and compassion to put it in our proposal.”
"What many people don't realize is that the National Guard does not receive many of the medical benefits that the other branches of the military receive," said Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow. "This ARPA project will go to help fund mental health treatment for not only National Guard members, but other veterans. After my service in the Marine Corps I was diagnosed with extreme post-traumatic stress. Thankfully, I was able to receive the services and treatment I needed, but that hasn't been the case for many in our National Guard. This facility will be outstanding for the state of Oklahoma and I can't wait to get it to the floor for a vote."
The project is among the proposals to be considered when the Legislature reconvenes the Second Extraordinary Session of the 58th Oklahoma Legislature, which was called for the purpose of evaluating ARPA projects advanced by the joint committee.
The overall goal is to determine projects that will result in the greatest benefit to the state. The committee considered public input and took the recommendation of working groups to determine its final project list.
The new proposals are in addition to projects passed by the Legislature during special session held in June.