Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: October 2, 2013
Sen. Frank Simpson
Senate committee studies veteran center eligibility
There are currently approximately 340,000 veterans
in Oklahoma. Of those, almost 78,000 are considered peacetime veterans
and are not eligible for admission to the state’s veterans’
centers. The Senate Veterans Committee held their first meeting
Monday to study the disparity in eligibility and how it can be addressed.
“I’m grateful to the Oklahoma Department of Veterans
Affairs for being at the forefront of this issue. Like them, I believe
that our state veterans’ benefits should be offered to all
veterans who served honorably,” said Simpson, R-Ardmore. “All
veterans made the same commitment to serve our nation and they should
all be honored for their service, sacrifice and commitment.”
Under current Oklahoma law, only veterans who served during World
War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the current Persian Gulf conflicts are
eligible for state benefits, which include admission to the state
veterans’ centers. The veteran must have served 90 days active
duty with at least one day of that service occurring during one
of the above mentioned conflicts.
Veterans who served outside these time periods are considered peacetime
veterans and are not eligible for admission. The peacetime conflicts
include Lebanon, Grenada, Libya, and Panama. Marines who survived
the bombing of the marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon would also
not be eligible.
For example, if someone joined the military on May 7, 1975, they
would be would be classified as a “war veteran” and,
therefore, eligible for admission to a veterans center because they
had one day of service during the Vietnam era. However, if someone
joined the military only one day later on May 8, 1975, they would
not be eligible for admission.
Simpson also pointed out that Oklahoma’s war veteran population
is expected to drop from around 259,000 to 124,000 by 2035 with
the loss of the state’s World War II and Korean War veterans.
“Even though the centers are currently full to capacity, and
there is a waiting list, the decline in the veteran population over
the coming years will create new opportunities. Oklahoma needs to
be prepared to serve its veterans,” said Simpson, Senate Veterans
Committee chairman. “If any changes are made, priority admission
would still be provided to combat veterans, and those with service
Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) Deputy Director Danny
Stewart thanked Simpson and the committee for their work on this
study and other important veteran-related issues.
“ODVA greatly appreciated the opportunity to provide information
to the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee relating to
the admission of peacetime veterans into the Oklahoma Veterans Centers.
This is an important issue for a significant portion of our veterans’
community in Oklahoma and we hope to continue discussions with the
Legislature in the coming session,” said Stewart. “We
also would like to thank Senator Frank Simpson for allowing the
agency to present information on a number of other important issues
relating to qualifications for state veterans benefits, including
those for surviving spouses of deceased veterans.”
Additional information presented during the interim study can be
viewed at www.oksenate.gov/publications/senate_studies/interim_studies.aspx
by going to Study Number 13-03 and clicking “available”
under Presentation & Reports.
For more information, contact:
Sen. Simpson: (405) 521-5607