OKLAHOMA CITY - The State Department of Veterans Affairs is promoting a registry that, the agency says, will help Oklahoma keep track of its veterans while giving them important information about benefits.  

The state has about 360,000 veterans. No one really knows for sure.

“We don’t really know that number, because we just can’t nail it down. They only veterans that we knew at the time were those that applied for state benefits,” said Sen. Frank Simpson (R) Springer.

So, the Department of Veterans Affairs rolled out a registry on their website three months ago. Keeping the right numbers can save the state money by eliminating people who get state benefits who hadn’t earned them.

“We offer many of our veterans benefits through our state agencies. We offer them a tax exemption through the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Our theory is, and we’ve had some evidence to show, that some of those benefits are being abused by non-veterans,” said Sen. Springer.

The other advantage, veterans can learn about benefits they have coming to them. Senator Springer sites one vet as an example.

“She filled out her information, and in the process of verifying her information, they found that she had an outstanding VA claim that had been awarded to her years ago to the tune of $400,000 in back benefits, this lady is going to collect,” he said.

Filling out the information is simple. A News 9 crew watched as Veterans Affairs spokesman and Navy veteran Shane Faulkner filled out his. It took about four minutes.

“It’s that easy. We’re not asking for a whole slew of information. Just your basic information,” said Faulkner.

The information won’t be sold or used for anything other than identifying you as a veteran. Problem is only about 500 vets have signed up so far. To sign up, log on to: https://odva.ok.gov/content/oklahoma-veterans-registry.