A working group of dedicated advocates from The Military Coalition – a consortium of organizations (of which MOAA is a co-chair) representing a combined 5.5 million members – is making progress on concurrent receipt legislation and needs your help with a summer surge.
[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmakers to Support the Major Richard Star Act]
Maj. Richard Star, USAR, namesake of the Major Richard Star Act (H.R. 1282/S.344), lost his fight with cancer in February of this year. Before the pandemic hit in 2020, he was tenacious – even with terminal lung cancer, he would struggle down the halls of congressional office buildings, stopping to catch his breath, to make it to the next office to advocate for concurrent receipt.
Military and veterans groups have vowed to continue his work, and have seen some success in recent weeks: The bills recently reached milestones in both chambers, with support from 51 senators and 105 House members, and growing.
There are still many lawmakers who would support this legislation if they heard from constituents. Click the links to see whether your senators or your House members support this legislation. Need more information? Check out this Star Act Tracker from Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Kitzhaber, USAF (Ret), a dedicated volunteer advocate for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
With turmoil over delayed budgets and work on the National Defense Authorization Act, it is impactful to email and call your elected officials asking them to support the Star Act. You can call your lawmaker via MOAA’s toll-free Capitol Switchboard at 1-866-272-6622.
Concurrent Receipt Talking Points
When you reach out to your lawmaker or their staff, remember these points about the Star Act, and why the incremental approach it represents is so important to make progress. By gaining co-sponsors, we increase awareness and commitment to resolving this inequity for those who were retired early due to combat or combat-related injuries or illnesses.
- Two payments, two purposes: Retired pay is for vested years of service paid by DoD, while disability compensation is for lifelong injury paid by the VA. To reduce retirement pay because of a disability is an injustice.
- An unfair law: Title 10 requires a reduction, referred to as an offset, in retirement pay for every dollar of disability received. This cost-saving measure is borne on the back of retirees.
- Incremental improvements: The VA awards disability in 10% increments. Those who are awarded 50% disability and above who reached 20 years of service were granted concurrent receipt of DoD retired pay and VA disability in 2004.
- More work to do: Left behind after that 2004 change are those 20-year retirees with a 40% disability rating and below, and those who were medically retired under Chapter 61 with less than 20 years of service.
By the Numbers
Lawmakers' main concern with the Star Act is cost. H.R. 1282/S. 344 would correct concurrent receipt for the 42,000-plus combat-injured servicemembers under Chapter 61 at an estimated at $6.9 billion over 10 years. Along with paving the way for further concurrent receipt legislation, this figure is much smaller than those attached to other proposals/groups:
- It would cost $33 billion over 10 years to grant concurrent receipt for 40% disabled and below and those under Chapter 61, per Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates.
- It would cost $20 billion over 10 years to grant concurrent receipt for just 40% disabled and below (without helping Chapter 61 retirees), per the CBO.
- The total number of Chapter 61 medical retirees has grown to over 575,000 during GWOT and does not have a cost estimate.
In the year that will see our withdrawal from Afghanistan, it is important to reflect on sacrifice and cost. Our nation’s longest war is still ongoing and is expensive, exceeding $2 trillion. The cost of the war in Iraq is approaching that figure, as brigade combat team rotations there continue. Supporting those injured in a combat zone should be considered part of the cost of war.
MOAA and The Military Coalition will continue to advocate for concurrent receipt for all retirees. Addressing those injured in a combat zone is a good step forward to reaching the concurrent receipt objective; ask your lawmakers to support the Major Richard Star Act today.
MOAA Looks Out For You
MOAA is committed to protecting the rights of servicemembers and their families. Lend your voice and support these efforts today. Because the larger our voice is, the greater our impact will be.