Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Senator Reid Fights for Disabled Veterans' Benefits

From Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today....

"I introduced a bill yesterday to fix a legal loophole that cheats disabled veterans out of their rightful retirement pay. It would end a policy that deducts disability payments to veterans from their military retirement pay. The current policy is officially known as the ban on concurrent receipt, and it is terribly unfair.

The ban on concurrent receipt stems from Civil War-era legislation that is completely outdated and unnecessary for today’s military. In effect, it makes veterans give up their hard-earned retirement money if they become disabled. No other federal employees have ever faced this kind of restriction, and I think it’s about time we stopped treating veterans so badly.

I’ve been fighting for five years to win fair benefits for disabled veterans, and fortunately there has been some progress. In 2003, Congress passed my bill to allow concurrent receipt for veterans who were classified as 100% disabled. Then last year, we passed another bill to expand concurrent receipt to cover about 40,000 of America’s most severely disabled veterans, and to implement the new policy immediately instead of phasing it in over a decade. That measure passed in spite of Bush Administration threats to veto it.

I’m so disappointed that the Bush Administration tried to stop us from giving our disabled veterans fair retirement benefits. The key to America’s safety and security is a professional, well-trained military. In order to attract the dedicated soldiers we need, we must show that we’ll honor them and take care of them when they retire.

Our veterans have sacrificed to keep us safe, and we need to support them. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made so far, but it’s not enough. We need to end this unfair policy once and for all, and make sure all our veterans get the benefits they deserve.

This new bill would end the ban on concurrent receipt immediately for all disabled veterans with 20 or more years of service. A similar measure has already been introduced in the House. We owe it to our veterans to pass this measure."

U.S. Senator Harry Reid

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