Disabled veterans would get full military entitlements, under bipartisan companion measures now pending before both houses of Congress.
If passed, the bills would end the dollar-for-dollar offset of veterans’ disability pay from military medical compensation for service members who left the service after being medically retired with less than 20 years’ service.
The VA administers disability pay, while DoD is responsible for military retirement pay. Enactment would allow some 42,000 veterans with disability retirement to receive full compensation, said Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Florida, and Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., co-sponsors of the House measure. Their bill, the Retired Pay Restoration Act, is dedicated to Maj. Richard Star, an Army reservist who recently died of cancer. Even though Star served a total of 29 years in uniform, he asked as a final wish that military and veterans service organizations continue to press Congress for an end to the offset. Several previous efforts to pass such legislation have failed.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Officers Association of America, Wounded Warrior Project, Military Coalition and Disabled American Veterans are among the service organizations voicing strong support of the increased benefit.
Both the House Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs committees are considering the bill.
Sens. Jon Tester, D-Montana, and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, are sponsoring the Senate version. Tester and Moran are chair and ranking member of the committee.