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Bilirakis and Ruiz Lead Bipartisan Push to Provide Disabled Veterans Full Military Benefits

February 24, 2021
Press Release

Bilirakis and Ruiz Lead Bipartisan Push to Provide Disabled Veterans Full Military Benefits

-Bipartisan Major Richard Star Act would allow 42,000 combat-injured veterans to receive full disability compensation and retired pay-


(U.S. House of Representatives) – Earlier today Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA) re-introduced the Major Richard Star Act, which will rectify an injustice that keeps disabled Veterans from receiving full military benefits.  Currently, at least 42,000 military retirees with combat-related injuries qualify for medical retirement pay for their service from the Department of Defense (DoD) and for disability compensation for injuries connected to their service 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.  In total, 58 Members of the House of Representatives have signed on to be original co-sponsors of this important legislation.


The brave men and women who return from serving our country should be able to receive the benefits promised to them. Military retirement pay and service-connected disability compensation are two completely different benefits. One does not diminish the merits of the other,” said Bilirakis. “I am committed to rectifying this injustice for all Veterans, and passage of the Major Richard Star Act will get us one step closer to our goal of ensuring that Veterans receive the benefits they have earned and deserve.”  While Congressman Bilirakis has filed legislation each year he has been in office to rectify this injustice (H.R. 303) for retirees with 20 years or more of service, he is now simultaneously pursuing the Major Richard Star Act which will allow more Veterans who are just as deserving to receive the benefits to which they are rightfully entitled.  


“I am proud to re-introduce the bipartisan Major Richard Star Act this week,” said Dr. Ruiz. “Major Star tragically passed away this month far too soon at the age of 51. This bill honors his service and life by repealing the unjust law that stands in the way of veterans receiving the military retirement pay and service-connected disability compensation that they have rightfully earned.”


 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. “It is with much gratitude that I thank Representatives Bilirakis and Ruiz for introducing the Major Richard Star Act, and for their continued commitment to helping our American soldiers, veterans, and their families,” said Tonya D. Star, spouse of Major Richard Star. “Before Major Richard Star lost his long-fought battle with cancer just a few days ago after 29 years of service, he made me promise him to continue to work with members of Congress to get this bill passed, and help the 42,000 families that would desperately benefit from it. It is my honor to carry on this effort in his memory.” 


The Senate companion to the House Bill has been filed by Senators Tester, and Crapo, Moran.  The Senate Bill also had 42 original bipartisan co-sponsors in the Senate. 


The Major Richard Star Act received strong backing from leading Veterans Service Organizations including the Military Coalition, Military Officer Association of America (MOAA), Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), and Disabled American Veterans (DAV).


“Maj. Richard Star inspired veterans across the nation as he embarked on this selfless journey to ensure all families of servicemembers will be taken care of,” said Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, president and CEO of MOAA. “He has earned his rest and now it’s our turn. We will honor his legacy by continuing his fight alongside Congressmen Bilirakis and Ruiz to get concurrent receipt passed for all servicemembers.”


"We were saddened to hear of the recent passing of Maj. Richard Star and have offered our sincerest condolences to his family. His service to our Nation and tireless advocacy for veterans will never be forgotten" said Bill McCabe, Director of Legislative Affairs at The Enlisted Association. “This legislation would rightfully provide total offset relief for combat injured servicemembers who were medically retired before reaching 20 years of service. TREA thanks Congressman Bilirakis and his staff for their leadership and urges Congress to swiftly pass this long overdue correction of injustice."


“The VFW would like to thank Congressman Bilirakis for re-introducing the Major Richard Star Act. As we mourn the recent passing of fellow VFW member and legislation namesake, we are committed to honoring Major Star’s legacy by working to get rid of this egregious compensation rule. The Major Richard Star Act would eliminate this unjust offset for 42,163 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.”  - VFW National Commander Hal Roesch.