NDAA Amendments Would End Injustice Faced by Combat-Injured Veterans

NDAA Amendments Would End Injustice Faced by Combat-Injured Veterans
Rudy Sulgan/Getty Images

The fight to secure concurrent receipt for combat-injured veterans forced to medically retire moved into a new phase May 31, when two amendments that would reverse this long-term injustice were proposed in the House for the must-pass FY 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).


And as the House moves forward with more than 1,000 NDAA amendments, MOAA needs your support as we urge lawmakers in both chambers to overcome bureaucratic rules and add language to the NDAA that would help tens of thousands of veterans who lose a dollar of DoD-issued retirement pay for every dollar of VA-issued disability compensation.


[ACT NOW: Ask Your Lawmakers to Support Concurrent Receipt for Combat-Injured Veterans]


Amendment 654 is new this year and would end the offset over a three-year span to reduce costs. Amendment 1072 is the original text of the Major Richard Star Act; both amendments were submitted by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), who has introduced the Star Act in multiple sessions of Congress.


A coordinated effort is planned by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) for the Senate’s version of the NDAA.


Over two-thirds of the House and Senate support concurrent receipt for combat-injured veterans forced to medically retire, but for years the Star Act has been held up by bureaucratic rules. Put simply, the House Rules Committee must find the amendment “in order”; in the Senate, a floor vote is required. 


[MORE ON RULES: 32 Military and Veterans Advocacy Groups ask Key House Leaders to Waive ‘CUTGO’ Rule]



Advocates from The Military Coalition’s Star Act Working Group pose for a photo after meeting with Hill staffers. From left: Matthew Schwartzman of the Reserve Organization of America; Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret), MOAA’s director of Government Relations for Currently Serving and Retired Affairs; Levi Sadr, vice president of The Military Coalition and director of government affairs at the Non Commissioned Officers Association; Jon Nutman, policy advisor with the Air Force Sergeants Association; CW4 Jack Du Teil, USA (Ret), president of The Military Coalition; and Jeremy Villanueva, Marine veteran and government affairs associate director at the Wounded Warrior Project. (Courtesy photo)


How You Can Help

We have about one week to influence House Rules Committee members to ensure the Major Richard Star Act is included in the NDAA. We expect the Senate to take up the amendment process in July. Now is the time to continue your outreach efforts, both online and over the phone.


First, send our updated message on this issue to your House member and senators via MOAA’s Legislative Action Center. Share the link with your personal and professional network; MOAA membership is not required to engage via our online platform.


[READ MORE: Download MOAA’s Star Act Information Paper]


And this week, reach out to your House member’s office via MOAA's toll-free line to the U.S. Capitol switchboard – 866-272-MOAA (6622). Ask to speak with the military legislative assistant and deliver these key talking points:

  • There is an injustice in place denying combat-injured veterans their earned retirement pay.
  • We need you to influence the speaker and the Rules Committee to waive the “CUTGO rule.”
  • Please ensure H.R. 1282 is included in the NDAA.


As with the Legislative Action Center, MOAA membership is not required to use the switchboard. Grassroots advocacy has been critical to reaching this point in the legislative process, and lawmakers need to continue to hear from their constituents in this election year if we want to reach the finish line.


Why This Bill Matters

The short answer is trust. With an average of 80% of military recruits coming from military families, parents and key influencers need the assurance that if their loved one is injured in combat, they will receive the compensation they earned. Addressing these concerns from parents and influencers is vital as the services continue to face recruiting challenges.


Our combat-injured (and often seriously disabled) veterans are subject to a decrement where their retirement pay is reduced for every dollar of VA disability compensation received. Retired pay is for completed years of service paid by DoD, while disability compensation is for injury incurred in service and paid by the VA. These two benefits, established by Congress for entirely different reasons, are nonetheless subject to a statutory offset. To reduce earned retirement pay because of a combat disability is not the place to achieve savings in the DoD personnel account.


Stay up to date on this and other MOAA legislative priorities by visiting MOAA’s Advocacy News page.


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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.