OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation providing for greater inclusiveness of Oklahoma military personnel and veterans in the Oklahoma Veterans Registry was signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt in late April.
The Oklahoma Veterans Registry is a voluntary registry of all Oklahoma residents serving on active duty or in the Oklahoma National Guard, as well as all honorably discharged veterans residing in the state. The purpose of the registry is to provide better access to state and federal benefits.
Rep. Tommy Hardin (R-Madill) and Sen. Frank Simpson (R-Ardmore) were the authors of House Bill 1198, which created the registry in 2017. The law stipulated that the registry must be completed by 2020.
“This tool provides a straightforward way for our veterans to access information about their current state and federal benefits, as well as find out about other benefits they may be eligible for,” Hardin said. “The registry is a simple way for our state to increase the level of care we can provide for our veterans.”
A bill passed this session, Senate Bill 358 by Simpson and Hardin, creates a new requirement that the State Dept. of Health provide a list of all deaths of Oklahoma veterans to the Veterans Registry so that the registry remains current.
Hardin said the registry went live Wednesday. He and Simpson are both veterans and were the first Oklahoma veterans to sign up for the registry. On Thursday, members of the Legislature’s bicameral, bipartisan Veterans Caucus also enrolled in Veterans Registry.
“I am proud to have played a small part in the creation of the Oklahoma Veterans Registry,” Simpson said. “Our state agencies will now be able to verify veteran status. This will ensure that only our veterans are receiving benefits reserved for them and prevent those who do not qualify from abusing those benefits.”
Oklahoma veterans can sign up for the registry at okvets.ok.gov by clicking on the Oklahoma Veterans Registry link.