Burns Holds Interim Study on Stolen Valor

Mike Seals - August 19, 2020 11:02 am

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Ty Burns, R-Morrison, held an interim study examining the effects of misused tax exemptions and veterans’ benefits during Tuesday’s House Appropriations and Budget on Finance Subcommittee meeting.

Burns said he filed Interim Study 20-011 to learn in depth about details surrounding stolen valor, including misused veterans’ benefits, within the state. In such instances, a person may create a fake identification card or pose as a family member who is a veteran to take advantage of benefits such as tax exemptions, home loans, education benefits and pensions.

“Unfortunately, it’s very common for someone to misrepresent their service or take advantage of veterans’ benefits intended for a family member,” Burns said. “The misuse of these benefits and tax exemptions adds yet another roadblock that prevents veterans from receiving the benefits they need. My hope is that by identifying how this happens, we can consider steps to stop it from happening in the future so we can continue to protect our state’s veterans.”

Burns said one of his concerns was ensuring 501c3 nonprofits that raise money in Oklahoma spend a portion of that money within Oklahoma to aid the state’s veterans.

Joel Kintsel, who serves as executive director of Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, spoke at the interim study.

“I really appreciate the hard work Representative Burns and the committee put into today’s interim study,” Kintsel said. “It is so important to ensure that the service and sacrifice of genuine Oklahoma veterans is not diminished by those who seek to receive benefits they did not earn.”

According to an update from the Oklahoma Tax Commission, about 40,000 veteran identification cards have been in circulation since 2005. ODVA reported that they track about 22,000 of the current cards.

During the study, Burns and the other attendees discussed the possibility of crossover IDs to provide an extra layer of security and lower the risk of stolen identification. One suggested option was an added symbol on drivers’ licenses to identify the person as a disabled veteran.

Burns is a military veteran and became a decorated infantryman over his 20-year career. Burns was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and is the recipient of several awards, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantry Badge.

The House approved more than 70 interim studies this year, which must be completed by Oct. 29. Interim studies give lawmakers the opportunity to meet, gather data and speak with experts on matters important to the state and that could potentially result in changes to existing legislation or new state law.

A video of the Burns’ interim study is available at https://okhouse.gov/Video/Default.aspx.


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