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Retired admiral to take over Oklahoma Veterans Department

Retired Rear Adm. James Bynum was appointed executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Veteran Affairs.
U.S. Navy
Retired Rear Adm. James Bynum was appointed executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Veteran Affairs.

The Oklahoma Veterans Commission has tapped a retired admiral to lead the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs after a year of contested leadership.

Retired Rear Adm. James Bynum will serve as the new executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Veteran Affairs.

Bynum's background includes consulting for defense engineering and manufacturing companies. He also served as a senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and held positions at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C., and as a military legislative assistant for the staff of the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Sidney Ellington, chairman of the Oklahoma Veterans Commission Executive Search Committee, expressed confidence in a press release of Bynum’s appointment.

“We are thrilled to welcome Admiral Bynum as our new Executive Director. He possesses the leadership, vision, and dedication necessary to advance our mission and enhance the support we provide to Oklahoma’s veterans,” the press release read.

Bynum will officially begin his role on Aug. 1, succeeding retired Rear Adm. Greg Slavonic.

Slavonic was named to head the agency after a conflict between Joel Kintsel, then-executive director, and Gov. Kevin Stitt. Kintsel claimed Stitt broke the law by improperly appointing three members of the commission without consulting local veterans' groups first. Kintsel, who unsuccessfully challenged Stitt in the June 2022 Republican primary for governor, further alleged massive corruption by Stitt’s administration.

For several months, Kintsel maintained his belief that Stitt’s selections were illegitimate and refused to work with the commission.

Kintsel was officially terminated in a 5-1 vote by the Oklahoma Veterans Commission in March 2023.


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Anusha Fathepure is a summer intern at KOSU as part of the Inasmuch Foundation's Community Fellowship Class.
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