(JUNEAU) - State recorders offices would be the preferred single depository of Alaska veterans' discharge papers under a bill that passed the House of Representatives today.
"This bill will make government more efficient," said Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski), chair of the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, which sponsored the bill. "The current requirement to keep these records in multiple state agencies is unnecessary and wastes government dollars."
Separation papers document veterans' completion of military service, and are needed to qualify for mortgages, disability benefits, education or other benefits of service, Chenault said. Veterans may register the documents at no charge with the recorders offices or the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
However, current law requires the recorders offices and the Bureau of Vital Statistics to forward copies of separation papers they receive to each other, creating duplicate databases. What's more, the recorders office often sends courtesy copies of such documents to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, adding another layer of bureaucracy and causing unnecessary duplication.
"While it's important for separation records to be safe and available, the duplication process is redundant, especially with the large numbers of Alaskans who have served in uniform," Chenault said.
HB 137 would relieve the Bureau of Vital Statistics of its responsibilities as a depository, leaving the recorders offices as the sole storehouse of Alaska veterans' discharge papers and maintaining a high level of service to veterans.
The bill moves next to the Senate for consideration.
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