Sens. Moran, Tester, Crapo Lead Bipartisan Push to Provide Disabled Veterans Full Military Benefits
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) – ranking member and chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) – and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) today introduced the Major Richard Star Act, bipartisan legislation to provide combat-injured veterans with less than 20 years of military service their full benefits.
Currently, 42,000 military retirees with combat-related injuries qualify for retirement pay for their service from the Department of Defense (DoD) and for disability compensation for injuries acquired in combat from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, for retired veterans with less than 20 years of service, their disability pay is deducted from their retirement pay. The Major Richard Star Act would repeal this offset, allowing disabled veterans to receive both their retirement pay and their disability compensation.
“Congress must work to make certain our veterans aren’t being shortchanged by unfair rules that result in one benefit they’ve earned as a servicemember canceling out another benefit they’re entitled to as a veteran,” said Sen. Moran. “This bipartisan legislation would ensure combat-wounded veterans are able to receive their full disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs and retirement pay from the Department of Defense without having their disability pay deducted from their retirement pay.”
“When it comes to our nation’s disabled veterans, we’ve got to cut through the bureaucratic red tape that’s prevented them from getting the full benefits they’ve earned,” said Sen. Tester. “The Major Richard Star Act would fix the unfair offset that prevents thousands of veterans living with the wounds of war from accessing both their disability benefits and retired pay. And it honors the service and sacrifice of Major Richard Star, whose legacy lives on in our continued fight to ensure our men and women in uniform get the assistance they deserve.”
“All active duty and retired military personnel deserve to receive the full care and benefits they have earned, not just fragments offset by government red tape,” said Sen. Crapo. “The Major Richard Star Act will ensure medically retired and combat-injured veterans receive both military retired pay and disability compensation earned through their service to our nation. I join the nation in mourning the recent loss of Major Richard Star, and I remain dedicated to improving veterans benefits, including fixing unfair discrepancies such as this, to honor his legacy.”
The bill is named in honor of Major Richard A. Star—a father, husband, and decorated war veteran who, as a result of his combat-related injuries, was medically retired. Major Star sadly lost his battle with cancer on February 13, 2021.
The Major Richard Star Act received strong backing from leading Veterans Service Organizations including the Military Coalition, Military Officer Association of America (MOAA), Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), and Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
“Disabled veterans who are entitled to VA compensation due to their service-connected conditions and retired military pay for their service to this country deserve to receive both, without any offsets,” said Disabled American Veterans Washington Headquarters Executive Director Randy Reese. “DAV supports the Major Richard Star Act to repeal the offset between VA disability compensation and DoD medical retirement pay, just as we support the ‘Retired Pay Restoration Act,’ which would eliminate the remaining offsets for longevity retired pay and disability compensation.”
“VVA is in full support of the Major Richard Star Act, which, when enacted, will correct a grave injustice facing those medically retired veterans without 20 years’ service whose military retirement pay is now being reduced by the amount of their disability compensation,” said Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) National President John Rowan. “Military retirement pay and disability compensation are two separate benefits; for those injured in the line of duty, this offset creates an undue financial burden on the family of a disabled veteran. Those injured in defense of the U.S. Constitution have earned these benefits. It is time for Congress to address this injustice and change this law.”
“Retirement pay and VA disability compensation are two distinct and separate benefits that veterans earn through their service,” said National Commander of The American Legion James W. “Bill” Oxford. “However, these two benefits have been unjustly tied together to reduce costs. Current law requires that these benefits offset one another by reducing retirement pay for every dollar of disability received. The Major Richard Star Act is a vital step in the right direction but there is more to be done to solve the issue of concurrent receipt once and for all. The American Legion is proud to support this legislation and calls for this bill to be swiftly passed through Congress.”
“FRA strongly supports this legislation because is a big step forward in Congress authorizing the immediate payment of concurrent receipt of full military retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation for all disabled retirees, including those who were medically retired with less than 20 years of service,” said Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) Director of Legislative Programs John Davis.