Treatment of veterans a national disgrace

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 5, 2003

After the war - what? Many active duty servicemen and women - wounded and disabled - will become veterans. They will then wander into a massive governmental bureaucratic morass that has a strong stench about it.

Plainly speaking! A serviceman or woman retires honorably and is entitled by law to "retirement pay" payable by the Department of Defense. That same serviceman or woman was severely disabled as a result of wounds received in action and by law receives "disability compensation" payable by the Department of Veterans Affairs also known as the Veteran's Administration. That soldier does in fact receive two separate checks. Let's say that soldier's retirement pay is $1,000 per month and his or her disability compensation is $500 per month. You would assume that soldier would receive a total of $1,500 monthly. Wrong! The $500 payable as disability compensation is deducted from the $1000 payable as retirement pay; therefore the end result is that the veteran only receives a total of $1000 monthly. In other words the soldier gets only $500 from the Department of Defense (retirement pay)and $500 from the Department of Veteran's Affairs (disability compensation) or a total of $1,000.

Veteran and military organizations have joined the fight to reverse this unjust and discriminatory law. The time has come when military retirees who were disabled in the line of duty will not have to pay for their own service connected disability out of their retirement check! This issue is generally referred to as "Concurrent Receipt!" Believe it or not, this ill-conceived law was passed following The Civil War.

Has somebody told PFC Jessica Lynch that this abominable situation exists and might apply to her own "thank you" from the federal government! Some "reward" this is! Are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine recruiters apprising prospective inductees of this law! You can bet the farm that they are not.

Though some partial remedies have been offered, the issue of "Concurrent Receipt" remains unresolved.

Recently, I raised "Concurrent Receipt" with Congressman Terry Everett, who is a member of two important committees: Committee On Armed Services and Committtee On Veterans' Affairs. His response:

"Congress has just received the President's budget for Fiscal Year 2004 and has begun the process for funding our nation's priorities for the upcoming year. With the ongoing war on terrorism, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and growing federal deficits, this will prove to be one of the most difficult budget cycles since I was elected to Congress. Any new spending will likely be difficult to come by."

In other words, veterans who won the war in Iraq get a raw deal irrespective of all the rah-rah! According to a Member of Congress disabled veterans rank below some Iraqi according to the nation's priorities!

Please take up this issue with U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, U.S.

Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510 as well as Congressman Terry Everett, 2312 Rayburn Building, Washington, D.C. 20515. Also, of course The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania AV, Washington, D.C. 20500!

For more information go to Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees, 1929 18th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20009, , .

This is a national disgrace!