Bennet, Hickenlooper Join Bipartisan Push to Deliver Combat-Injured Veterans Full Military Benefits

Denver — Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper joined U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) in reintroducing the Major Richard Star Act, a bipartisan bill to provide full military benefits to combat-injured veterans with less than 20 years of military service.

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 Major Richard Star Act will fix this policy for medically retired combat veterans by providing them with their full VA disability and DoD retirement payments.

“We owe America’s wounded veterans more than just a debt of gratitude – we owe them the benefits they need to live and support their family after serving our nation in combat,” said Bennet. “This bill makes good on our promise to service members and veterans, and ensures that their retirement payments are not cut as a result of their sacrifices for our country.”

“All veterans, especially those injured in combat, deserve the benefits they’ve earned. We’ve got to keep our promises to them, and making sure they get their FULL retirement and disability compensation is a step in that direction,” said Hickenlooper.

This 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.

"The Veterans of Foreign Wars is urging Congress to pass the Major Richard Star Act to help put money back in the pockets of Veterans who were forced to retire early from military service because of battlefield injury or illness," said Steve Kjonaas, Veterans of Foreign Wars Colorado Legislative Director.

“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.”

“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.”

Bennet and Hickenlooper have been consistent supporters of our nation’s veterans and the benefits they earned. Last year, Bennet and Hickenlooper helped pass the PACT Act to expand VA health care eligibility to veterans exposed to toxic substances. 

The text of the bill is available HERE.