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Gus Bilirakis Brings Back Bill to Expand Retirement Benefits for Disabled Veterans

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., is once again championing a proposal to expand retirement benefits for disabled veterans is gaining traction on Capitol Hill.

In recent years, Bilirakis has paired up with U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., to push the “Major Richard Star Act.” Bilirakis reintroduced the bill this week.

“This critical legislation will rectify an injustice that keeps combat disabled Veterans from receiving full military benefits. Currently, over 50,000 medically retired veterans are forbidden from receiving their full retirement pay and disability compensation. The Major Richard Star Act would repeal this unfair offset, allowing these disabled veterans to receive both their retirement pay and their disability compensation. 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. Last Congress, Bilirakis and Ruiz secured 335 co-sponsors of this important legislation,” Bilirakis’ office noted.

“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.

“I’d like to thank the Veterans Service Organizations that have been tenacious in their outreach to members of Congress throughout the country to request co-sponsorship. Because of their unwavering support, we are able to move this bill one step closer to becoming law,” Bilirakis added.

“After serving and sacrificing for our nation, too many veterans face unnecessary roadblocks in receiving the benefits they need, have earned, and deserve,” said Ruiz. “The Major Richard Star Act would repeal 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.”

U.S. Reps. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., Kathy Castor, D-Fla., Neal Dunn, R-Fla., Scott Franklin, R-Fla., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Corey Mills, R-Fla., Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., Bill Posey, R-Fla., John Rutherford, R-Fla., Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., Darren Soto, D-Fla., Michael Waltz, R-Fla., and Dan Webster, R-Fla., are among the co-sponsors.

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Armed Services and the Veterans Affairs Committees.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has championed the proposal in the U.S. Senate and reeled in more than 60 co-sponsors in 2021 and 2022.

Author

  • Originally from Jacksonville, Kevin Derby is a contributing writer for Florida Daily and covers politics across Florida.

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