NORMAN — Approximately 340,000 veterans are 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 had their first meeting Monday to study the disparity in eligibility and how it can be addressed.
Under Oklahoma law, only veterans who served during World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf conflicts are eligible for state benefits. 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. Peacetime conflicts include Lebanon, Grenada, Libya and Panama. Marines who survived the bombing of the marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, also would not be eligible.
Sen. Frank Simpson said 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.