Two important veterans’ bills will soon be on their way to the Governor’s desk after the Senate gave them overwhelming approval Tuesday. Sen. Steve Russell authored Senate Bills 1951 and 1905, which address concerns related to military divorces and health care.
“These are common sense measures that protect the rights of veterans and I’m pleased that we were able to get them through the process,” said Russell, Chair of the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. “I’m looking forward to the Governor signing these measures so our brave men and women can begin seeing the benefits of these bills.”
SB 1951 creates the Wounded Warrior Protection Act. The measure protects the Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) and SMC (Special Monthly Compensation) of wounded soldiers in divorce proceedings by deeming a portion of the CRSC or SMC as separate property, not divisible as a marital asset or community property. The bill also would prohibit alimony payments, whether designated for support or for property division, to be based on CRSC or SMC. The new law will go into effect as soon as it is signed by the Governor.
“For years, we’ve seen wounded soldiers’ benefits placed at risk to garnishment due to legal settlements, be it divorce, lawsuits or whatever. This law will ensure that Oklahoma statutes clearly protect the compensation given for war injuries,” said Russell, R-Oklahoma City. “A nation that cannot care for its wounded veterans has no respect for liberty.”
SB 1905 would prohibit employers from requiring employees who are military retirees and have been provided with health coverage through a federal plan to participate in employer-sponsored health insurance coverage if the plan requires a contribution from the individuals. Once signed, the bill will become effective November 1, 2012.
“Career service members gave decades of their lives to earn benefits such as military health care that are theirs by right of their sacrifice. I think it’s a travesty that any employer would forcefully require these veterans to participate in company healthcare plans and ignore the benefits that they have already earned through their sweat, sacrifice and sometimes blood,” said Russell. “This law ensures that career veterans will be able to enjoy the healthcare their sacrifice provided them and prohibits employers from heartlessly and needlessly taking money out of veterans’ pockets by requiring them to participate in a healthcare plan when they already have one.”