There has been little progress on providing concurrent receipt to deserving retired servicemembers for over a decade. With the heartbreaking news of veteran advocate Maj. Richard Star, USAR, losing his battle with cancer Feb. 13, there is new momentum and a sense of urgency.
[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmakers to Support the Major Richard Star Act]
Days after the Senate reintroduced the Major Richard Star Act with 45 cosponsors, Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) and Dr. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) reintroduced the House’s version. H.R. 1282 would make incremental progress on the larger concurrent receipt problem.
“Maj. Richard Star inspired veterans across the nation as he embarked on this selfless journey to ensure all families of servicemembers will be taken care of,” said Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), MOAA’s president and CEO. “He has earned his rest, and now it’s our turn. We will honor his legacy by continuing his fight alongside Congressmen Bilirakis and Ruiz to get concurrent receipt passed for all servicemembers.”
The Major Richard Star Act will authorize DoD retirement pay, earned by years of service, and VA disability payments for those forced to medically retire from service as a result of an injury incurred a combat zone. This legislation is part of the incremental approach toward achieving the goal of concurrent receipt for all retirees.
[MARCH 9 MOAA WEBINAR: All You Need to Know About Concurrent Receipt]
“I am proud to re-introduce the bipartisan Major Richard Star Act this week,” Ruiz said. “Major Star tragically passed away … far too soon at the age of 51. This bill honors his service and life by repealing the unjust law that stands in the way of veterans receiving the military retirement pay and service-connected disability compensation that they have rightfully earned.”
For Bilirakis, this effort is a family affair to continue his father’s work to achieve concurrent receipt for all retirees. Each year, Bilirakis introduces concurrent receipt legislation, H.R. 303, which would do just that for retirees with 20 or more years of service. Unfortunately, the bill’s estimated $20 billion price tag has hindered passage; an incremental approach is necessary to make progress.
“The brave men and women who return from serving our country should be able to receive the benefits promised to them. Military retirement pay and service-connected disability compensation are two completely different benefits. One does not diminish the merits of the other,” Bilirakis said. “I am committed to rectifying this injustice for all Veterans, and passage of the Major Richard Star Act will get us one step closer to our goal of ensuring that Veterans receive the benefits they have earned and deserve.”
Champions of concurrent receipt are gaining momentum in the House of Representatives with H.R. 1282 in a bipartisan manner. One of the bill’s nearly 60 original cosponsors (63 had signed on as of March 2) is Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga-), who yearly champions H.R. 333. With an estimated cost of over $33 billion, H.R. 333 would correct the entire concurrent receipt injustice, including medical retirees, but as with H.R. 303, it has not progressed due to cost. With a looming $3 trillion deficit and the rising cost of pandemic support, the necessity to chip away at the cost to make progress on concurrent receipt is clear.
Even with budgetary concerns, momentum to make important progress on concurrent receipt is growing this year. Help support this momentum by calling and writing your lawmakers. Use these links to find out whether your lawmaker already is supporting H.R. 1282 or S. 344.