The Major Richard Star Act – a bill that would end an unjust offset faced by tens of thousands of combat-injured veterans – has grown co-sponsors in recent weeks as staffers have time to access constituent requests and engage with elected officials.
Co-sponsors for The Major Richard Star Act recently grew to 55 in the Senate and 151 in the House. You can check to see whether your lawmakers support the House or Senate versions at these links: S. 344 | H.R. 1282. Thanks to engagement from MOAA members and The Military Coalition (TMC) – a group of military and veterans organizations with a combined membership of nearly 5.5 million members of the uniformed services community – support for the Star Act is bipartisan and has good potential to reach a tipping point next year.
This holiday season is a very good time to reach out and ask for your representative and senators to co-sponsor the Star Act as they develop 2022 goals and prepare for midterm elections.
[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmakers to Support the Major Richard Star Act]
According to the DoD Office of the Actuary, the Star Act would support over 48,000 combat-injured veterans with concurrent receipt of medical retired pay and VA disability. These individuals, often seriously disabled, are subject to an offset where their medical retirement pay is reduced for every dollar of VA disability received. In some cases, their retirement pay is completely reduced.
Retired pay is for completed years of service paid by DoD, while disability compensation is for lifelong injury paid by the VA. Two different payments for two different purposes. To reduce retired pay because of a disability is an injustice.
What Happened With the Bill in 2021?
Although cosponsors grew significantly for the Star Act, a supermajority of support is required for this legislation to get this through Congress due to the cost of the bill. The bill was introduced as an amendment in this year’s House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but the House Rules Committee was unable to waive NDAA budgetary rules, preventing further movement on the amendment.
Unfortunately, the Senate limited voting on amendments. Securing more co-sponsors in both chambers can help overcome these procedural hurdles.
Advocacy for concurrent receipt and the Star Act is part of a larger campaign MOAA has pursued for many years. In 2004, MOAA and TMC secured concurrent receipt for retirees who served at least 20 years and have a VA disability rating at 50% or higher. Left behind after that 2004 change are 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.
MOAA and TMC advocate for concurrent receipt for all, and the Star Act is part of an incremental strategy. The total cost for concurrent receipt for those left behind was previously estimated at more than $33 billion over 10 years. The Star Act is a much a smaller segment of our combat injured, and the bill must get out of committee to receive an official cost estimate.
Our combat injured are a compelling group to support in the year that witnessed the tragic exit from Afghanistan, leaving many with moral injury, and the year Maj. Richard Star, USAR, lost his battle with cancer. Reach out to your lawmakers 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.