Under current law, a military retiree whose service is cut short by a disability is limited in the total receivable compensation. But a bill introduced in Congress would right this wrong by expanding concurrent receipt of Department of Defense retirement pay and Department of Veterans Affairs disability compensation.
To be fully eligible for both benefits, retirees must have at least 20 years of service and a VA disability rating of at least 50%. For everyone else, their pay is offset dollar for dollar, penalizing tens of thousands of disabled veterans by robbing them of their earned benefits due to no fault of their own.
The Major Richard Star Act, introduced in February, would allow combat-disabled veterans with fewer than 20 years of service to collect retirement pay, without reduction, and VA disability compensation.
“The issue of concurrent receipt is one of fairness,” said DAV National Commander Joe Parsetich. “Military retiree pay and VA compensation for life-changing, and often lifelong, disabilities are for separate reasons, and one should not impact the other.”
“I will always demand our nation’s veterans receive the full benefits they’ve earned, especially those who were forced to retire from military service as a result of their injuries,” said Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, who introduced the bill along with Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho. “Prior to his passing, I was proud to work with Major Richard Star to address an injustice that prevents thousands of veterans living with the wounds of war from accessing what they’ve earned.”
The bill’s namesake, Army Maj. Richard Star, died in 2021 at age 51 from lung cancer suspected to stem from burn pit exposure in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Ohio native enlisted in the Army in 1988. He later accepted a direct commission and became an engineering officer in 2004. Star medically retired and was a fierce advocate for his fellow disabled veterans right up until his untimely death.
“Disabled military retirees should be paid for years of honorable service and their service-connected injuries, many of which are caused by combat,” said DAV National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “This is a long-standing injustice we need to fix, and DAV looks forward to working with Congress to make the Major Richard Star Act law.”