Gov. Stitt removes two members of Oklahoma Veterans Commission who backed GOP rival

Gov. Kevin Stitt has removed two members of the Oklahoma Veterans Commission.

Larry Van Schuyver, who was chair of the commission, said in a series of social media posts that he and Paul Costilow, the vice-chair, had been removed by Stitt after the June 28th primaries.

“This was done as retaliation against me for using my right as a citizen to support Director Joel Kintsel for Governor on my own time,” Van Schuyver said in one post.

The Veterans Commission website shows vacancies for chair and vice-chair.

The Oklahoma Veterans Commission is the controlling board of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs. It is composed of nine members, of which at least 8 are honorably discharged Veterans.

“Firing a combat wounded veteran without cause is a low bar even for Kevin Stitt. I was proud to serve Oklahoma veterans and I’ll continue to fight for the services they deserve despite the governor’s political retribution,” said Retired Master Chief Larry VanSchuyver, ousted chair of the Oklahoma Veterans Commission.

Joel Kintsel, the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, took a leave of absence to run against Gov. Stitt in the June 2022 primaries, saying in his experience working under Stitt, he believed the governor was corrupt and unethical. Stitt won the nomination for re-election, sweeping 69% of the vote, with Kintsel receiving 14%.

State Superintendent and Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Joy Hofmeister released this statement in response:

Stitt’s firing of career military veterans as we celebrate their service over the July 4 holiday is an affront to all service men and women. Larry Van Schuyver, an Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient, and General Pete Costilow, a Vietnam veteran, have served our country honorably. They deserve our deepest gratitude; instead Kevin Stitt showed them the door.”

Kate Vesper, Governor Stitt’s Press Secretary released this statement:

Both Mr. Costilow and Mr. Van Schuyver were appointed by Governor Stitt and served at the pleasure of the governor. We wish them the best in their next endeavor.”