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Shaheen, Hassan Join Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Combat-Injured Veterans Full Military Benefits

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, announced that they joined Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Jon Tester (D-MT) to introduce the Major Richard Star Act, bipartisan legislation that would provide combat-injured veterans with less than 20 years of military service their full benefits.  

Currently, only veterans with disability ratings above 50 percent and more than 20 years of service are eligible to receive the full amount of their U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) retirement and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability payments, leaving behind medically retired combat veterans with less than 20 years of service.  The Major Richard Star Act will fix this policy for medically retired combat veterans--providing them their full VA disability and DOD retirement benefits. 

“There should not be any debate over providing veterans with service-connected injuries the full military benefits they have earned, regardless of their time in the military. Every veteran deserves the benefits they have earned through their service and those benefits should not be curtailed due to bureaucratic issues, full stop,” said Senator Shaheen. “That’s why I’m proud to cosponsor the Major Richard Star Act, which will help veterans with less than 20 years of military service access the benefits they deserve. We need to ensure we do right by our veterans and the Major Richard Star Act will correct this wrong that has impacted veterans who have sacrificed themselves in defense of our nation.” 

“Veterans who are injured during combat have defended our freedoms with valor and deserve full VA benefits—regardless of their time served,” said Senator Hassan. “The late Major Richard Star was dedicated to ensuring that all veterans who experience disabilities due to combat injuries would be able to access full retirement and disability compensation. I will always work to ensure that veterans receive the benefits that they have earned and deserve, and I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting this important bill.” 

This legislation is named in honor of Major Richard A. Star, a decorated war veteran who was forced to medically retire due to his combat-related injuries. Major Star sadly lost his battle with cancer on February 13, 2021. 

The bipartisan legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), John Hoeven (R-ND), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Bob Casey (D-PA), James Risch (R-ID), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Luján, Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT). 

Full text of the legislation is available here.  

Senators Shaheen and Hassan have spearheaded efforts in the Senate to support veterans and military families. They worked to include provisions and helped pass the historic PACT Act, which expanded health care for veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. In the fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was signed into law, Shaheen successfully included a provision based on her bipartisan legislation with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) that improves the transferability of military spouses’ occupational licenses and helps alleviate the red tape spouses endure if they’re small business owners moving from state to state with their families. In government funding legislation for FY2022 that was signed into law, Shaheen successfully secured $3 million to implement the legislation. Additionally, the funding legislation included $22 million for the Beyond Yellow Ribbon (BYR) program, which funds the New Hampshire National Guard’s Care Coordination Program. BYR programs provide outreach services to troops returning from deployment, including health care, marriage and financial counseling, substance misuse treatment and mental health services. Shaheen built on these efforts in the FY2023 government funding proposal released by Senate Democrats last year. Last September, Shaheen worked with a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Access for Veterans to Records Act to help more veterans access their service records. Last week, Hassan and Shaheen sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough pushing the VA to address urgent infrastructure failures at the Manchester VA Medical Center and prioritize building a full-service VA hospital in the state.