March 01, 2021

Van Hollen, Tester, Crapo, Moran Push to Provide Disabled Veterans Full Military Benefits

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has joined Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and a group of their colleagues in introducing the Major Richard Star Act, bipartisan legislation to provide combat-injured veterans with less than 20 years of military service their full benefits.

Currently, more than 42,000 military retirees with combat-related injuries qualify for retirement pay for their service from the Department of Defense (DoD) and for disability compensation for injuries acquired in combat from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, for retired veterans with less than 20 years of service, their disability pay is deducted from their retirement pay. The Major Richard Star Act would repeal this unfair offset, allowing disabled veterans to receive both their retirement pay and their disability compensation. 

“Disabled veterans deserve full retirement and benefits. But current policy prevents veterans who are medically retired with less than 20 years of service from receiving what they’re owed. Our bill—named after its fiercest advocate, the late Major Richard Star—would help ensure more than 42,000 combat-injured veterans get the compensation they deserve after sacrificing so much for our nation,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“When it comes to our nation’s disabled veterans, we’ve got to cut through the bureaucratic red tape that’s prevented them from getting the full benefits they’ve earned,” said Senator Tester. “The Major Richard Star Act would fix the unfair offset that prevents thousands of veterans living with the wounds of war from accessing both their disability benefits and retired pay. And it honors the service and sacrifice of Major Richard Star, whose legacy lives on in our continued fight to ensure our men and women in uniform get the assistance they deserve.”

“All active duty and retired military personnel deserve to receive the full care and benefits they have earned, not just fragments offset by government red tape,” said Senator Crapo. “The Major Richard Star Act will ensure medically retired and combat-injured veterans receive both military retired pay and disability compensation earned through their service to our Nation. I join the Nation in mourning the recent loss of Major Richard Star, and I remain dedicated to improving veterans benefits, including fixing unfair discrepancies such as this, to honor his legacy." 

“Congress must work to make certain our veterans aren’t being shortchanged by unfair rules that result in one benefit they’ve earned as a service member canceling out another benefit they’re entitled to as a veteran,” said Senator Moran. “This bipartisan legislation would ensure combat-wounded veterans are able to receive their full disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs and retirement pay from the Department of Defense without having their disability pay deducted from their retirement pay.” 

The bill is named in honor of Major Richard A. Star—a father, husband, and decorated war veteran who, as a result of his combat-related injuries, was medically retired. Major Star sadly lost his battle with cancer on February 13, 2021.

Text of the Major Richard Star Act can be found here.