Senate Approves Veterans’ Records Bill
(JUNEAU) - The Senate today gave the Legislature’s final approval to House Bill 137, designating state recorders offices as the preferred single depository of Alaska veterans’ separation papers.
Separation papers document veterans’ completion of military service, and are needed to qualify for mortgages, disability benefits, education or other benefits of service, said Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski), chair of the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, which sponsored the bill. Veterans may register the documents at no charge with the recorders offices or the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
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. In addition, 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.
“I am pleased the Senate saw fit to pass this bill, which will eliminate unnecessary duplication of effort, make government more efficient, and simplify things for Alaska’s veterans,” Chenault said. “We should be proud that so many Alaskans have served their country in uniform, and we should do what we can to provide them easier access to the records of their service.”
HB 137 would relieve the Bureau of Vital Statistics of its responsibilities as a depository for separation papers, leaving the recorders offices as the sole storehouse of Alaska veterans’ discharge papers and maintaining a high level of service to veterans, Chenault said.
“If the duplicate record-keeping was solving anyone’s problems instead of creating confusion, I wouldn’t mind, but it’s not,” Chenault said. “This bill is a common-sense step to save the government money and simplify veterans lives.”
Following its unanimous passage in the Senate, HB 137 goes next to the governor.
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