New bills aim to improve veteran's rights for those honorably discharged

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ARDMORE, OK -- Ardmore State Senator Frank Simpson is pushing fellow legislators to do more for his fellow Oklahoma veterans.

He's authored two bills aimed at better services and representation for all honorably discharged Oklahoma veterans.

The Oklahoma Senate has passed two bills that impact peacetime veterans, those who were not deployed into battle during a war.

Durant VFW Veteran Service Officer Paul Conley thinks all honorably discharged veterans should have equal opportunities in Oklahoma.

"Right now Oklahoma has 370,000 veterans and under that 370,000, I think we have 100,000 plus that are not quote wartime veterans.", Conley.

Senate Bill 1610 would redefine 'veteran' in Oklahoma to include all honorably discharged veterans regardless of how long they served.

"I think you should have the same benefits as those who are currently afforded to them through the U.S. Veteran's affairs.", said Conley.

If the bill is signed into law, those 100,000 peacetime vets would be eligible for state benefits including admission into the state's veterans centers.

Justin Cassidy served sixteen tours in Iraq. He believes that veterans should have to prove their service-related disability in order to receive benefits.

"I feel like regardless of your veteran's status whether it's peacetime, whether it's wartime, that you should fall under the same litmus test that we all do to receive care or any type of compensation.", said Cassidy.

SB 1970 would rename the War Veterans Commission of Oklahoma the Oklahoma Veterans Commission whose members would represent a broader demographic of Oklahoma vets..

The bills now move on to the House committee on veterans and Military affairs.