Oklahoma Senate studies veterans center eligibility

By: Helen Headlee Email
By: Helen Headlee Email

ARDMORE, OK - The Ardmore Veterans Center has been Lee Campbell's home ever since he had a stroke eight years ago. He served in the Navy from 1972 to 1975 and said those who served during times of peace deserve the same level of care he receives at the Center.

"Things can happen to them like happened to me and they don't get the aid that I do," said Campbell.

Of the 340,000 veterans in Oklahoma 78,000 are peacetime veterans.
Under Oklahoma law, only veterans who served during World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf conflicts can be admitted to the centers.

But the Oklahoma State Senate has conducted a study about opening the state's 7 veterans centers to peacetime vets.
Senator Frank Simpson said it would be possible because by 2035 the number of wartime veterans will drop from 270,000 to 129,000.

"That gives us opportunities for some long range planning to open up eligibility to other veterans groups so they can take advantage of the benefits that the state offers," said Simpson.

Shane Faulkner--public information officer for the State Department of Veteran Affairs--said allowing peacetime veterans would not result in overcrowding. Instead, it would keep the centers full.

"It allows us to be able to say a few years down the road we're still going to be able to fill our veterans centers, but it also gives peacetime veterans a chance to receive the same benefits as wartime veterans," said Faulkner.

Campbell said he wants to see that equal treatment.

"It would be good for anybody at anytime to come that's served their country," he said.

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