The 118th Congress has kicked off, with a new speaker in the House and senators at home for a state work period. This is an excellent time to reach out to your elected officials and ask them to become original co-sponsors of the Major Richard Star Act (H.R. 1282/S. 344) and ensure it is included into the FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act or passed as a standalone bill.
Over two-thirds of the 117th Congress supported this bipartisan and bicameral legislation, with 336 co-sponsors in the House and 67 in the Senate.
[TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Legislators to Support Concurrent Receipt]
The act would provide concurrent receipt of DoD-earned retirement pay for years of service and VA disability compensation for over 50,300 combat-injured veterans. Currently, these combat-injured (and often seriously disabled) veterans lose a dollar of retirement pay for every dollar of disability pay received – an unjust offset designed to save the government money.
Retired pay is earned for completed years of service, while disability compensation is for lifelong injury: These two benefits, established by Congress for entirely different reasons, are nonetheless subject to a statutory offset. To reduce earned retirement pay to fund any combat disability pay is an irresponsible method to achieve savings.
The Star Act soon will be reintroduced in the House by Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) and Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) and in the Senate by Sens. John Tester (D-Mont.) and Michael Crapo (R-Idaho) – all champions for concurrent receipt legislation. Lawmakers can contact the offices of those members now to become original co-sponsors.
[RELATED: MOAA’s Legislative Action Center]
When lawmakers sign on before the legislation is reintroduced, they are listed as original co-sponsors. This act signals a legislator’s commitment to our combat-injured veterans, and offers assurance that previous support was not exclusively tied to last year’s midterm elections. You can check to see whether your elected officials signed on last session here: House | Senate.
New lawmakers in the House also have an opportunity to highlight the importance of supporting our combat-injured veterans. MOAA’s Major Richard Star Act information paper is an important document for new staffers to help their boss take a position; constituents can also call those new offices via MOAA’s toll-free Capitol Hotline – 866-272-MOAA (6622) – and request a meeting to discuss this issue with their military legislative assistant or legislative director.
You can learn more about MOAA’s legislative priorities for the new 118th Congress at this link.
More Members Mean More Influence Over Retirement Pay, Health Care, and Family Programs
Get involved and make sure your interests are addressed. Because the larger our voice is, the greater our impact will be.