COPENHAGEN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Veterans are fighting for more disability benefits.
On November 20, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D) visited Copenhagen and introduced the Major Richard Star Act.
This new legislation would allow veterans with combat-connected disabilities to receive both disability compensation from the VA and military retirement pay from the Department of Defense, Senator Schumer said at his press conference.
Currently, only veterans who retire after 20 years of service and are over 50% disabled can receive both disability and a retirement pension. Senator Schumer said this “forces veterans” to take a “dollar-for-dollar pay reduction for any disability compensation.”
“I always want to make sure our North Country veterans receive the full benefits they deserve, which is why Congress needs to come together and get serious about defending our nation’s defenders – the brave veterans who risked their lives to keep us safe each and every day. However, our current laws leave our combat-injured veterans in the North Country, New York State, and across the nation without the benefits they’ve earned through dedicated years of service to our nation,” Sen. Schumer said at his appearance in Copenhagen.
Retired U.S. Army Captain Matthew DePrimo attended the press conference. He served with the Army for five years and was deployed to Afghanistan.
It was after his time overseas when DePrimo was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and subsequently had to retire from the Army. Captain (R) DePrimo was given a 90% disability rating.
“Unfortunately, since I served for less than 20 years, I am not eligible for concurrent VA disability and DoD retirement benefits. My condition has gotten worse in the year since I left the Army, and sometimes I worry about what it will be like 10 or 20 years down the road,” DePrimo expressed. “By passing the Major Richard Star Act, Congress can cut through the red tape preventing me from getting the benefits I earned, giving me and my family peace of mind as I enter the next phase of my life.”
Senator Schumer emphasized that the Major Ricard Star Act would benefit the over 20,000 veterans in the North Country, including DePrimo.
The bipartisan legislation being led in the Senate by Senator Jon Tester is named in honor of Major Richard A. Star. Major Star was an Army combat engineer and a decorated veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who was forced to medically retire due to combat-related injuries.