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‘Deceased Veterans Dignity Act’ clears first Senate hurdle

Sen. Steve Russell Sen. Steve Russell
Sen. Russell says SB 396 will address unclaimed remains and military escorts on turnpikes.

The Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee has given approval to help ensure veterans’ remains do not go unclaimed. Senate Bill 396, by Sen. Steve Russell, would also enable the Turnpike Authority to wave tolls for special escorts for military funerals.

“Unfortunately, there are times when a service member may die and the military cannot establish who has the right to obtain the remains and give them a decent burial,” said Russell, R-Oklahoma City. “However, there is a federal form used by military personnel to name a beneficiary in the event of death— under my legislation, that form would serve as a legal basis for the release of remains.”

The second part of Russell’s legislation would create the “Honor the Fallen Revolving Fund,” which would be used to cover turnpike tolls for groups who volunteer as escorts for military funerals.

“I think we’re seeing a lot more of this, largely due to the protests we’ve seen at military funerals. Many times the procession route includes a turnpike,” Russell said. “This bill creates a revolving fund so that a portion of turnpike fees can be set aside to cover the tolls for these military funeral escorts.”

A spokesperson for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority said the agency was supportive of the proposal.

SB 396 must now win approval by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Contact info
Sen. Russell: (405) 521-5618