Tester, Crapo Lead Bipartisan Push to Deliver Combat-Injured Veterans Full Military Benefits
Senators reintroduced Major Richard Star Act to provide combat-injured veterans with full earned disability compensation and retired pay
Continuing their push to deliver veterans the benefits they have earned, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) reintroduced the Major Richard Star Act—bipartisan legislation to provide combat-injured veterans with less than 20 years of military service their full benefits.
Currently, only veterans with disability ratings above 50 percent and more than 20 years of service are eligible to receive the full amount of their Department of Defense (DoD) retirement and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability payments, leaving behind medically retired combat veterans with less than 20 years of service. The Senators’ Major Richard Star Act will fix this policy for medically retired combat veterans
—providing them their full VA disability and DoD retirement payments.
“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 Tester. “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 Major Richard Star Act is a top priority for me, and I’ll continue to take on anyone in Washington to get it passed and provide veterans the benefits and dignity they deserve.”
“More than 50,000 veterans, including hundreds in Idaho, could benefit from the Major Richard Star Act,” said Crapo. “To honor the service of all veterans and Major Star’s enduring legacy, we must meet the responsibility of ensuring these combat-injured veterans receive the full benefits they have earned. Reducing retirement pay because of a combat disability is an injustice that must be corrected.”
This bipartisan legislation is named in honor of Major Richard A. Star, a decorated war veteran who was forced to medically retire due to his combat-related injuries. Major Star sadly lost his battle with cancer on February 13, 2021.
Veterans Service Organizations and Tonya Star, Major Star’s wife, applauded the Senators’ bipartisan effort to provide combat-injured veterans their due benefits.
“Before my husband Richard Star lost his long-fought battle, he made me promise him to continue to work with members of Congress, and help over 50,000 families that would desperately benefit from the Major Richard Star Act. It is my honor to carry on this effort in his memory,” said Tonya D. Star, spouse of Major Richard Star. “Last year, two-thirds of Congress supported the Major Richard Star Act and it is with much gratitude that I thank Senators Tester and Crapo for their continued commitment to pass this legislation for our servicemembers and their families.”
“The American Legion strongly supports the Major Richard Star Act, which would benefit more than 50,300 combat-injured veterans by allowing concurrent receipt of military retirement pay and VA disability compensation,” said The American Legion National Commander Vincent J. Troiola. “We’re grateful for Chairman Tester’s continued leadership on this incredibly important issue and urge Congress to repeal this unfair offset and allow veterans to receive both their retirement and disability compensation without forfeiting either.”
“The Military Coalition, comprised of 35 military and veteran service organizations representing more than 5.5 million servicemembers, veterans, and their families, proudly supports the Major Richard Star Act,” said President of the Military Coalition Jack Du Teil. “Supporting our combat injured is a national imperative. More than two thirds of Congress supported this legislation last year and we look forward to working Senators Tester and Crapo and Representatives Bilirakis and Ruiz to get this legislation passed into law this year.”
“Military retired pay and VA disability compensation are distinct benefits established by Congress for different purposes, and under no circumstances should veterans have to forfeit a portion of their retirement pay simply because they were medically retired for combat-related injuries,” said Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) Vice President of Government Affairs Jose Ramos. “The Major Richard Star Act would finally eliminate the offset for those veterans and fully recognize their extraordinary sacrifices while in service. Wounded Warrior Project is proud to offer our endorsement and we thank Senator Tester for introducing this important bill.”
“VVA is in full support of the Major Richard Star Act, which, when enacted, will correct a grave injustice facing those medically retired veterans without 20 years’ service whose military retirement pay is now being reduced by the amount of their disability compensation,” said Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) National President Jack McManus. “Military retirement pay and disability compensation are two separate benefits; for those injured in the line of duty, this offset creates an undue financial burden on the family of a disabled veteran. Those injured in defense of the U.S. Constitution have earned these benefits. It is time for Congress to address this injustice and change this law.”
“The VFW would like to thank Senators Tester and Crapo for reintroducing the Major Richard Star Act,” said Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Associate Director of National Legislative Service Brittany Dymond. “The Major Richard Star Act would eliminate this unjust offset for tens of thousands of Chapter 61 retirees who suffered injuries in combat. While this is a modest segment of the more than 575,000 Chapter 61 military retirees, they are just as deserving of retirement pay even though their injuries prevented them from fulfilling their 20-year obligation. We urge Congress to pass this Act and honor this nation’s promise to care for all its veterans.”
“Our combat-injured veterans earned their retirement pay for dedicated years of service often deployed away from home and frequently subjected to enemy fire,” said Military Offices Association of America (MOAA) President and CEO Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret). “The Major Richard Star Act supports over 50,000 medically retired servicemembers injured in that line of fire. Major Richard Star inspired veterans across the nation with his selfless journey to ensure care for all families and servicemembers. We will honor his legacy by continuing his fight alongside Chairman Tester and Senator Crapo to pass concurrent receipt legislation.”
“Disabled veterans who are entitled to VA compensation due to their service-connected conditions and retired military pay for their service to this country deserve to receive both, without any offsets,” said Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Washington Headquarters Executive Director Randy Reese. “DAV supports the Major Richard Star Act to repeal the offset between VA disability compensation and DoD medical retirement pay, just as we support the Retired Pay Restoration Act, which would eliminate the remaining offsets for longevity retired pay and disability compensation.”