Nine days after Major Richard Star, USAR, lost his battle with cancer from toxic exposure, Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) reintroduced the Major Richard Star Act (S. 344) with 42 Senators as original cosponsors.
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The legislation will authorize concurrent receipt of DoD retired pay and VA disability for those injured in a combat zone and forced to medically retire under Chapter 61.
Before Star lost his long-fought battle with cancer, he wanted to make sure his fight for concurrent receipt continued.
“He made me promise him to continue to work with members of Congress to get this bill passed, and help the 42,000 families that would desperately benefit from it,” his widow, Tonya, said. “It is my honor to carry on this effort in his memory.”
Senators are growing bipartisan support for this legislation – part of an incremental strategy to chip away at the larger concurrent receipt problem that has an associated $33 billion price tag.
“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,” Tester said. “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 servicemembers, active and retired, “deserve to receive the full care and benefits they have earned, not just fragments offset by government red tape,” said 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.”
There is a renewed support and a sense of urgency across military and veterans service organizations to advocate for concurrent receipt legislation. The Military Coalition, a group of 35 organizations (including MOAA) representing more than 5.5 million servicemembers, veterans, their families, and survivors, wrote a letter of support for the bill to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.
“An incremental approach to correcting this injustice should start with those injured in combat in recognition of their extraordinary sacrifices in defending our Nation,” the letter states.
Where Is the Legislation in the House of Representatives?
The House is on a different schedule than the Senate and will also reintroduce the Major Richard Star Act very soon. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) and Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) will champion the legislation again this year in the House. Last year, the bill ended in the 116th Congress with support from 101 representatives. Increasing support for this legislation is critical for the bill to pass – either as a standalone measure or as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
MOAA and The Military Coalition will continue to advocate for concurrent receipt legislation like The Major Richard Star Act and the strategy to incrementally achieve concurrent receipt for all retirees. Contact your legislators today, and monitor updates and read more about concurrent receipt at MOAA.org.
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