OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma state senator has filed legislation to better support Oklahoma veterans.
Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, filed Senate Bill 234 to designate Sept. 22 of each year as Veteran Suicide Awareness Day.
According to the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, research indicates the military and veteran suicide rate is 50 percent higher compared to the suicide rate of civilians.
“That specific date has meaning. September is National Suicide Awareness month, but I also want to bring attention to the fact that on the average, 22 veterans take their lives every single day in this country,” Bergstrom said. “The goal is to raise awareness, reduce the stigma, and educate more people about the help that is available for those who are in crisis, ultimately saving lives.”
Senate Bill 318 focuses on a tax benefit to Blue Star Mothers. Blue Star Mothers includes mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, foster mothers and female legal guardians of active military, guard or reserves, or who have children who are veterans.
The organization sends boxes of necessities and treats to troops stationed overseas.
Under current law, members of Blue Star Mothers must make their purchase and mail their box, then provide documentation before they can receive a sales tax refund.
SB 318 would give the organization a sales tax exemption at the time items are purchased.
“This is the same kind of tax exemption we provide to other charitable organizations,” Bergstrom said. “Blue Star Mothers supports our troops and promotes patriotism and shouldn’t have to jump through an additional hoop to get a tax benefit that supports their mission.”