 H.R.333 – Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act:

Amends federal military retired pay provisions to: (1) permit veterans with a service-connected disability of less than 50% to concurrently receive both retired pay and disability compensation; (2) eliminate provisions requiring a phase-in between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2013, of concurrent receipt of retired pay and disability compensation; (3) eliminate a phase-in of concurrent receipt of retired pay and disability compensation for disabled veterans determined to be individually unemployable; and (4) require a limited reduction in retired pay for qualified disability retirees with less than 20 years of retirement-creditable service.
This bill has not been passed by both the House and Senate. It has been referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

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 H.R.1292 – Disabled Veterans Commissary and Exchange Store Benefits Act:

Permits a veteran with any compensable service-connected disability (and the veteran’s dependents) to use commissary and exchange stores on the same basis as a member of the Armed Forces entitled to retired or retainer pay.
Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.
This bill has the support of many veteran service organizations and they are asking members to contact their respective representatives to support this bill.

<strong>This bill has not passed as of 29 September, 2015

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 Oklahoma Offers Special Benefits for its Military Service Members

Some of the benefits offered to Veterans by the State of Oklahoma are as follows:

State Taxes: – An Oklahoma resident who is a member of any component of the Armed Services may exclude 100% of his/her taxable active duty military pay. This includes Reserve and National Guard pay.
Income Tax Exemption for Nonresident Military Spouse – a nonresident Spouse of a nonresident Service member may be exempt from Oklahoma income tax on income from services performed in Oklahoma if all of the following facts are true:
• The Service member is present in Oklahoma in compliance with military orders;
• The Spouse is in Oklahoma to be with the Service member; and
• The Spouse maintains the same domicile as the Service member.
Withholding Tax: A Spouse whose wages are exempt from Oklahoma income tax under the SCRA may claim an exemption from Oklahoma withholding tax. Spouses wishing to claim this exemption from income tax may file a Form OW-9-MSE: Annual Withholding Tax Exemption Certification for Military Spouse with their employer. Spouses claiming exemption from Oklahoma income tax should consider the impact on their income tax (and estimated income tax) liability in their domicile state.
Retired Military Pay: Any individual may exclude the greater of 75% of their retirement benefits or $10,000, but not to exceed the amount included in the Federal Adjusted Gross Income. The retirement benefits must be from any component of the U.S. Armed Forces.
100% Veteran Disability Tax Exemption: – 100% tax exemption for sales tax, excise tax, and ad valorem tax (Latin term meaning “as to value”), including city and county sales tax, will be exempt.
Eligibility: Persons who have been certified as receiving compensation at the 100% rate where disability is permanent and where it is service connected as certified by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The sales tax exemption for the 100% disabled veterans extends to the surviving spouse of a deceased qualified veteran if the surviving spouse has not remarried. Sales qualifying for the exemption are limited to $1000.00 per year for the surviving spouse.
100% Motor Vehicle Tax Exemption: – The exemption may be claimed on only one vehicle in a consecutive three year period by any single qualifying Veteran. The exemption applies to motor vehicles only. It does not apply to boats or motors. The exemption does not apply to surviving Spouses of qualified Veterans.
• The qualifying Veteran must be listed on the title as an owner of the vehicle. Additional owners may also be present.
• The vehicle must have been purchased on or after 7/1/05.
• A letter from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs must be presented certifying that the Veteran is receiving disability compensation at the 100% rate or the exemption card issued to document the sales tax exemption must be presented.
100% Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption: – There is a 100% property tax exemption for disabled Veterans. Property tax systems are based on market value of real, personal and public service properties. The exemption can be claimed beginning January 1, 2006. The exemption will be for the full fair cash value of the homestead. Complete OTC Form 998, application for100% Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption and take to the county assessor’s office for the county in which the property is located.
• The qualifying Veteran must be receiving disability compensation at the 100% rate. The exemption applies to the surviving Spouse of the Veteran if the surviving spouse has not remarried.
Heroes Promise: House Bill 1343 – became effective July 1, 2011 creating a special tuition scholarship for Children of Oklahoma military personnel that were killed in action after January 1, 2000. Heroes Promise will help pay the student’s tuition at a public community college or university. It will also cover a portion of tuition at an accredited Oklahoma private college or university or for courses at public technology centers that are approved for credit toward an Associate in Applied Science degree at a public college. The scholarship is good for up to five years or until the student completes a bachelor’s degree, whichever comes first. The final amount of the scholarship will vary depending on where the student attends college, the tuition rates in effect at that time and whether he or she attends full time or less.
• The scholarship is available to Children of any person killed after January 1, 2000, in the line of duty in any branch of the United States Armed Forces or who died after January 1, 2000, as a result of an injury sustained while in the line of duty in any branch of the United States Armed Forces.
• The person who was killed or died must have filed an individual or joint Oklahoma income tax return for the tax year prior to the year during which the person was killed or died.
• The student must be an Oklahoma resident.
• The student must enroll within the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education prior to reaching the age of 2

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 Oklahoma’s Military Installations:

Beyond providing for our national security, the military installations in Oklahoma (Altus AFB, Fort Sill, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, Tinker AFB, and Vance AFB) have a tremendous
economic impact in the state. They are economic engines that employ Oklahomans. Illustrating the importance of these installations:
• Over 69,100 military personnel, federal civilian personnel and contractors were
employed at Oklahoma’s military installations in FY 2010.
• These jobs, and the operations at the installations, supported an additional
64,700 jobs in Oklahoma’s economy for a total employment impact of more than
133,800 jobs in the state.
• Impacts on Oklahoma’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is value-added
economic activity, totaled more than $9.6 billion in FY 2010, which was more
than 7% of the size of the state’s entire economy.
• Military installations in Oklahoma paid average wages of $43,675 in FY 2010,
which was $5,438 higher than Oklahoma’s average wage of $38,237.
• The jobs impacted by the military installations (direct, indirect and
induced jobs) paid average wages of $41,742, which was $3,505 higher than
Oklahoma’s average wage of $38,237.
• The military installations in Oklahoma had a total wage and salary payroll of
more than $3.0 billion in FY 2010. This created an additional $2.6 billion in
wage and salary payroll in the state for a total impact of $5.6 billion.

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 Veterans and Oklahoma:

The Veteran population in Oklahoma represent nine per-cent (9%) of the state’s population and our Veterans bring $1.8 billion dollars to the state. The breakdown is as follows:
VA expenditures in Oklahoma: $1.8 billion
o Compensation and pensions: $1 billion
o Readjustment benefits: $64 million
o Medical and construction programs: $577 million
o Insurance and indemnities: $15 million
Some other interesting facts are:
Number of veterans receiving disability compensation or pension payments: 70,263
o Number of Oklahoma veterans using GI Bill education benefits: 9,208
o Number of home loans in Oklahoma backed by VA guarantees: 5,878
o Value of Oklahoma home loans guaranteed by VA: $940 million
o Number of VA life insurance policies held by Oklahoma residents: 15,668
o Value of VA life insurance policies held by Oklahoma residents: $176 million
o Number of Oklahoma participants in VA vocational rehabilitation: 1,559
o Number of veterans buried in Oklahoma’s VA national cemeteries: 975
o Number of headstones and markers provided for graves of Oklahoma veterans and
survivors: 5,721
What does all of this mean? It means that the voice of Veterans is important in this state and, in
my opinion, we need to tell our state and federal legislatures what we believe rather than sit back
in a chair and complain. It is better to do something than to do nothing.

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 New Rules for Service Dogs at VA Facilities

According to an August 18 Military Times article by Patricia Kime, the VA will put new rules in place next month to ensure that veterans and visitors to VA facilities can bring their service dogs to appointments. The regulation—in the works since 2012 when Congress ordered the VA to expand access for assistance animals—will allow any service dog to enter a VA facility, as long as it is under a handler’s control and is trained to perform tasks or work for a person with a disability, whether it be physical, psychiatric, or intellectual

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 VA’s Revised Regulations Betray Blue Water Navy Veterans:

In a press release issued August 13 by the Military-Veteran Advocacy, MVA Executive Director Commander John B Wells, USN (Retired) responded to the VA’s recent revision to its manual, defining what areas can be considered for the presumption of Agent Orange exposure. This revision specifically excludes the crews of ships that entered the major bays and harbors of Vietnam, including Navy personnel who were exposed to Agent Orange in Da Nang, Nha Trang, Vung Tau and Cam Ranh Bay. The provision was issued in response to a court order from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims decision entitled Gray v. McDonald, which found the old regulation to be improper and ordering the VA to re-write it. Wells described the new regulation as a “betrayal.”

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 Health Screening Update:

Over the past year, men were 24% less likely than women to see a doctor. This reluctance to seek medical care is dangerous. Many of the health risks that men face can be prevented or treated with early diagnosis. All adults should visit their health care provider from time to time, even if they are healthy. The purpose of these visits is to:
• Screen for diseases
• Assess risk of future medical problems
• Help develop a healthy lifestyle
• Update vaccinations
• Maintain a relationship with a doctor in case of an illness
Even if you feel fine, it is still important to see your health care provider regularly to check for potential problemS.

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 GI Bill Update

Beginning 1 AUG, all active duty personnel who may choose to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a family member will be required to serve in uniform an additional four years, regardless of the years already served. The current policy allows service members to transfer benefits if they have served at least six years and agree to four additional years on active duty. Those who had 10 or more years of service could transfer the benefits without further commitment, but now they must also agree to serve four more years. Transferability is only available to active duty members. If a service member transferred the benefit and voluntarily leaves the military prior to completing the four additional years of service, the individual may be required to pay back those benefits. However, the requirement may be waived, if the service member is involuntarily separated. To apply to transfer the benefit, service members should first contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish their eligibility and then submit a transferability application. For additional information on GI Bill benefits visit httpp://www.gibill.va.gov.
According to an AP report, the Senate may soon have the chance to vote on whether or not to remove the time limit for GI Bill benefits. Currently veterans have 10 years to use their Montgomery GI Bill (or 15 years to use their Post-9/11 GI Bill). The so-called delimiting date is determined by the veterans last discharge date. Senator Richard Blumenthal announced his new bill the Veterans Back to School Act of 2013 (S.873) on 28 MAY, saying the new bill that would repeal the “unfair and arbitrary time limits.” Blumenthal said more than 2 million veterans who
missed the 10-year expiration date have been denied the benefits despite paying the required Montgomery GI Bill enrollment fee of $1,200. While the bill would not have an immediate effect on Post-9/11 vets, it would restore the GI Bill for many Vietnam, Cold-War, and Gulf-War era veterans who were unable to take advantage of their benefits within

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 VA ID Card Update – | Sent to President for Signature

A bill that would create a uniform identification card for U.S. military veterans is in the final stages of its journey from idea to law, and is being seen both as a nice benefit for America’s fighting men and women and an illustration of just how hard it can be to get anything through Congress. Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Florida Republican, the bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to issue a veteran’s 50 identification card. Such a card would allow veterans to prove their status without having to carry around military service records, such as the common form known as a “DD-214.”

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