OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, has filed legislation for the 2023 legislative session to bring greater attention to the crisis of the high suicide rate among veterans, as well as a measure to simplify a tax benefit utilized by the organization Blue Star Mothers. Bergstrom said the bills are aimed at better supporting Oklahoma’s military community.
Senate Bill 234 would 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.”
SB 318 deals with a tax benefit available to Blue Star Mothers, which 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 first make their purchases and mail their boxes, then provide documentation before they can receive a sales tax refund. SB 318 would simplify that process by giving 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.”
For more information, contact: Sen. Bergstrom: (405) 521-5561 or Micheal.Bergstrom@oksenate.gov