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New Momentum for Bill Enabling Disabled Veterans to Receive Full Benefits Gains Support on Capitol Hill

The call for equitable treatment of disabled veterans has gained fresh urgency on Capitol Hill through efforts to pass the Major Richard Star Act. Named in honor of an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who succumbed to cancer linked to burn pit exposure, the legislation aims to correct a significant flaw in the current system that unfairly reduces retirement pay for veterans who have served less than 20 years and possess a disability rating under 50%.

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The current legislative push is supported by a coalition of bipartisan lawmakers and veteran service organizations (VSOs), who are working tirelessly to reinvigorate the bill’s momentum. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, during a packed news conference with veterans in attendance, reinforced this commitment: “We’re not going to stop until we fix this injustice for our veterans and their loved ones.”

As it stands, around 50,000 veterans are adversely affected by these pay reductions, with some experiencing an average monthly offset of approximately $1,900. This legislative proposal seeks to abolish such penalties, thereby ensuring that all combat-injured retirees can collect the full retirement and disability benefits they have rightfully earned.

The Human Element: Richard Star’s Legacy

The personal story of the bill’s namesake, Richard Star, adds a poignant layer to the advocacy. His widow, Tonya Star, has been a vocal proponent for the bill’s passage. Speaking at the same news conference, she shared, “By far, Richard’s greatest goal was to pass this. These men and women earned their retirements the hard way, and Richard made myself, along with many of you, promise that we would not stop until we got this done.”

Legislative Challenges and Opportunities

The bill has previously garnered substantial legislative support, featuring more than 320 co-sponsors in the House and over 70 in the Senate. However, it has been mired in procedural delays, primarily due to concerns about its potential $9.75 billion cost over ten years as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.

In response to these fiscal challenges, supporters are exploring various strategies to secure the bill’s passage, including attaching it to the annual defense policy bill or finding alternative legislative avenues. This year, the sense of urgency is palpable as veteran groups and their allies prepare for the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees’ annual hearings, where the legislation will be a central topic of discussion.

A Commitment to Action

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, the leading House sponsor of the bill, highlighted the ethical imperative behind this legislative effort: “We’re not going to rest until we pass the Richard Star Act. This is a righteous cause.”

This renewed legislative effort not only aims to rectify a longstanding injustice but also seeks to affirm the nation’s duty to honor the sacrifices of its service members. By addressing these critical financial disparities, the Major Richard Star Act promises to deliver much-needed relief and support to thousands of veterans who have served their country with distinction. As this dialogue continues, it underscores the essential need for persistent, informed advocacy to ensure that the promises made to our nation’s heroes are fulfilled comprehensively and with respect to their sacrifices.


What is the Major Richard Star Act?

The Major Richard Star Act is proposed legislation that seeks to eliminate the reduction in retirement pay for veterans with combat-related disabilities who served less than 20 years and have a disability rating under 50%. It aims to allow these veterans to receive both full military retirement pay and VA disability benefits.

Who is affected by the current policy?

Approximately 50,000 military retirees who served less than 20 years and have a disability rating below 50% are currently affected. These veterans see their retirement pay reduced by a dollar for every dollar of disability pay they receive.

Why has the Major Richard Star Act stalled in Congress?

The act has stalled mainly due to concerns about its cost, estimated at $9.75 billion over ten years by the Congressional Budget Office. Fiscal concerns have led to delays as lawmakers discuss funding methods.

What are the next steps for the Major Richard Star Act?

Advocates are looking to attach the bill to the annual defense policy bill or another legislative vehicle to ensure its passage. Upcoming hearings by the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees will be key in pushing the bill forward.

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  1. Get benefits and get away from VHA. You WILL get fucked when you REALLY need them to do something and you’ll wish you had health insurance when they do it. If you don’t care about your life then play around with it! They don’t give a shit and not a soul on planet earth will be held accountable accept you for your own stupidity. Think I’m exaggerating? Play with it… just keep rolling the dice.

  2. Hopefully they get these Veterans their due! Also hoping 100% P&T TDIU Vets whom received said rating in the midst of appeals fights, like myself, while at 60%, 50% combined on 2 service connected disabling conditions, are now finding that 100% doesn’t mean just that where our state only acknowledges the 50% rating when determining property tax waiver, and VA doesn’t acknowledge 20+ yrs at this determination. It’s a roughly $5-$6,000 difference yearly in the amount of taxes required to pay due to this!!!! And everyone points the finger at the other to correct problem they admit is a shame but beyond their ability 🙄

  3. The intro paragraph contains false information. Allow me to correct it.
    The bill is for combat veterans only that have served less than 20 years that were medically retired with a DOD or Department of Defense disability rating at 30% or more and a VA disability rating at 50% or more that are currently eligible for combat related special compensation. there are about 50,000 of those qualifying veterans in the United States and that is all this bill addresses, it is for those veterans. It’s not for everybody, only for combat veterans.

  4. What about veterans with more than 50% disability and less than 20 years of service who are getting an offset? Will this eliminate that offset as well?

  5. I am a disabled veteran that collects CRSC. This bill directly impacts my two children, my spouse, and myself. I currently receive $300 of CRSC payments for serving 13 years in the military.

    Currently, I do not receive retirement.

    If this bill passes, I will be eligible for my full retirement.

  6. What’s kinda dumb is that the cost is eventually recouped as that money gets spent by the veteran and eventually re-taxed back to them. The only way they don’t recoup the money quickly is if the veteran buys assets or stocks with the money. Otherwise, they spend the money and the businesses that they spend it at are taxed, they use the money to pay property tax which gets re-spent, and in general that money ends up back in the economic loop and in government hands again. The problem is that they don’t want to tax OR spend appropriately. Everyone wants to cut taxes which isn’t really what is needed especially considering the wealth and income concentration that we have going on. That’s not just unhealthy for veterans but everyone in society. The anti-tax movement and the Trump movement didn’t help. To say that hasn’t had an impact and that Trump’s agenda is pro veteran is misguided. Nothing changed and he just cut his own taxes. People would rather be entertained by the man and buy into the propaganda than think about what he’s really all about.. and that’s not redistribution. His antics were pure entertainment and diversion.

  7. Although this bill has much merit I doubt that it will pass because Congress (usually but not always GOP Congress people) always play the ‘too much money’ card. That is odd from people who for literally generations do all that they can do to make sure that the wealthy people and mega-corporations get constant tax breaks to the point of the ridiculous.

    We simply cannot have this both ways. Either the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes and at that point there is the revenue for this OR we continue to give disabled veterans short shrift. Basically this says that it is okay to keep disabled veterans in near poverty as long as we take care not to tax the portfolios of the wealthy.

    If we constantly expect our young people to take up the responsibilities of military service then we need to understand THAT THEY UNDERSTAND the under-compensation factor for disabled veterans and are refusing to enlist in adequate numbers now. They won’t sign on for a lifetime filled with pain and near poverty should they get seriously injured in Service so that the wealthy can skip out on adequate taxation.

    When we under-compensate disabled veterans our young people see this. They then refuse to enlist and serve in uniform. This is not hard for anyone to see and easy to understand. Yet Congress continues to cater to the whims of the ultra wealthy donor class for the campaign funds that they receive. It is a national security risk.

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