Tipping Point for Bill Helping Combat-Injured Veterans: Make Your Voice Heard

Tipping Point for Bill Helping Combat-Injured Veterans: Make Your Voice Heard
Photo via Architect of the Capitol (www.aoc.gov)

Support for the Major Richard Star Act (H.R. 1282/S. 344) – a bill poised to benefit tens of thousands of combat-injured military retirees – has grown to 212 co-sponsors in the House and 58 in the Senate. These significant numbers represent a tipping point, and continued engagement from MOAA members via this year’s Advocacy in Action campaign could make all the difference.


This April, elected officials will return to their home district/state with midterm elections on their minds. Many will be eager to meet with constituents and listen to their concerns. When legislation to support combat-injured veterans, like the Star Act, earns the support of more than half the Senate, there is great opportunity to bring others on board. Activating your network of friends, family, and local officials can lead to more co-sponsors, and path for a win.


You can find out whether your legislator already sponsors the Star Act by checking either the official House co-sponsors link or Senate co-sponsors link at Congress.gov.


[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmakers to Support the Major Richard Star Act


When reaching out to your legislators, consider customizing your message:

  • Add the co-sponsor count to signify the bipartisan support across the country.
  • Reference the numbers of combat-injured veterans from your state who would benefit from the Star Act – some of the more than 50,300 veterans the bill would help. You can find the figure on MOAA’s Star Act issue paper.
  • Add a phone call to your advocacy efforts. Use MOAA’s Capital Hotline – 866-272-MOAA (6622), a toll-free line to the U.S. Capitol switchboard – to connect with your legislators' offices.


[RELATED: Concurrent Receipt Resources and Advocacy Updates From MOAA]


Star Act at a Glance

The Star Act would authorize concurrent receipt of DoD vested retired pay, calculated by years served and grade achieved, and VA disability compensation for lifelong injury.


These veterans currently have their retirement pay reduced for every dollar of VA disability received. Congress acknowledged this offset was an injustice in the FY 2004 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but lawmakers only partially corrected the problem because of cost.


The NDAA authorized concurrent receipt for those who had 20 or more years of service and a 50% or greater VA disability rating. Left behind are those who injured in combat and forced to retire before their 20-year mark.



The Star Act is part of an incremental approach to chip away at the larger concurrent receipt problem and – through follow-on incremental legislation – address those with 40% disability and below and those injured on duty and forced to medically retire. Cost unfortunately has been the obstacle for some lawmakers, but the incremental approach has grown momentum as a viable alternative.


Concurrent receipt may sound complicated, but it isn’t. Here are three simple points to remember and share on the Star Act:

  • Two different payments for two different purposes: DoD pays for vested retirement pay (in the past), while the VA provides disability compensation for lifelong injury (for the future).
  • Congress acknowledged this unfair offset in the FY 2004 NDAA.
  • To reduce retired pay because of a combat injury/illness is an injustice.


If your elected officials already co-sponsor the Star Act, ask them to include it with their formal FY 2023 NDAA written request and influence their fellow lawmakers to support the measure.


Follow updates this issue and others in MOAA’s advocacy campaign at MOAA.org/AiA. You can also follow the efforts of The Military Coalition, (TMC), a group of 35 military and veteran service organizations (including MOAA) with a combined membership of nearly 5.5 million that is actively supporting the Star Act this year. Support TMC’s efforts by sharing their social media messaging on the Star Act. 


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About the Author

Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)
Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)

Belinsky retired in 2019 after serving 22 years, with overseas tours to Afghanistan, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, and Germany. He joined the MOAA team in 2019 as Director, Currently Serving and Retired Affairs.