"WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights."
Mr. Secretary of Defense:
As the mournful tones of taps sounds across our great land, a tribute to the lives of our military men and women lost in last week's terrorism attacks, many of us "old disabled Sailorıs and Soldier's" give in to tears as we recall our many fallen comrades and others, during our many years of service to our Country.
As people filled churches to overflowing across the country our citizens and all Members of Congress came together to mourn all the lives lost, and those irrevocably changed, when hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.
And although a sense of loss pervaded each event, the speakers at various activities urged the country to move forward. A governor, said "Today, more than ever, let us all recognize that we are in this together, and let us say to the world that this tragedy has made us stronger, not weaker."
All Veterans, especially those that are disabled and a military retiree, recognize the enormous tasks facing our Armed Forces as a result of this crisis. We also know that there may be additional numbers of our Armed Forces lost and some may become disabled as a result of their service to our country.
The second paragraph of The Declaration of Independence states "WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." I ask you, if all men are created equal, how do we explain the following?
1. Service-connected VA disability compensation is currently deducted dollar-for-dollar from earned military retired pay. No other federal government employee is required to have his or her VA disability benefits taken out of their retirement pay!
2. A Senior Chief Petty Officer (SCPO E8) receives Zero (0) dollars, orvery little, military retired pay for serving 20 years in the Armed Forces, if he is also 100% disabled. In other words, 20 years of faithful HONORABLE service counts for nothing and is considered NOT worth compensation by this Congress, the Department of Defense and the Executive Branch of this administration.
3. Unlike those who served strictly in the Armed Forces, disabled veterans who take Civil Service jobs, or any other government position are allowed to receive VA disability pay and Full retirement for their faithful federal government service.
4. Heroism Pay: Noncommissioned Officers/Chief Petty Officers who serve 20 years or more and are a recipient of the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross, Navy Cross, Silver Star (USMC only), Airman's Medal and Soldiers Medal can be authorized up to 10%more of their earned military retired pay. Ironically, HEROISM PAY must also be waived when VA disability compensation exceeds the earned military retiree pay.
Military Retirees, eligible for EARNED retirement pay, with a VA service connected disability, eligible for VA disability compensation, believe it is time for EQUAL TREATMENT under the law of the land.
Legislation to remove the unfair offset between military retired pay and veterans disability compensation has its strongest support in the 107th Congress. Both bills, S 170 (73) and HR 303 (367), "The Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2001" (Concurrent Receipt) have a majority of cosponsors in both the Senate and House.
The Senate Armed Services Committee voted on Sept 7th and sent to the full Senate the FY 2002 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). A provision was included to authorize the concurrent receipt of retired pay and VA disability compensation provided the President makes the budget request for it and funding can be found.
Both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees now have included this provision in the NDAA. The most Honorable Senator Reid is expected to amend the bill with a provision for funding the Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2001. When his amended legislation comes up for a vote, we will finally know which members of the Senate really are concerned for the plight of the disabled military retiree. If passed, a joint House/Senate Resolution Committee, will have the responsibility of resolving differences between the two bills. Again, we will know which members of the House and Senate remained committed to the disabled military retiree.
Your actions are NOW crucial to this bills final passage. The time is now, and now is the right time for both the House and Senate members to demonstrate their total commitment to this country's disabled military retirees who have gone beyond the call of duty to preserve this great nation. Please, vote with pride to overturn an injustice that has been perpetuated upon ONLY the Federal military disabled retirees for over 100 years.
In closing, allow me to publicly thank Representative Joe Scarborough (R-1-FL), who as a member of the Armed Services and Government Reform committees, recently submitted HR- 2842 to the Committee on Government Reform. This bill states that "Federal civilian retirees shall NOT be allowed to receive veterans disability compensation while receiving earned retirement benefits, except to the extent that retired members of the Armed Forces are allowed to receive such compensation while receiving earned military retirement benefits."
Rep. Scarboroughıs proposed bill should open the eyes of those Federal civilian retirees who are receiving disability compensation and have yet to cosponsor and support S-170 or HR 303.
Among our greatest patriots and best citizens are those who devoted their lives to service in our Nation's Armed Forces--those who have contributed the most to our security and preservation of our democracy. Yet, our Government continues to short-change the servicemen and women who have sacrificed their health for the benefit of their fellow citizens. On behalf of todayıs and future career service members and as a member of the following Veteran and Service organizations: AMS, DAV, FRA, NAUS, TREA, USDR, VFW, MRGRG-NC, I write you again, asking for the full support of our Congress, the Department of Defense and the Executive Branch of government.
In my opinion, itıs either fund and pass this bill now or immediately inform todayıs and future career servicemen and women that they may lose their earned retirement if they get wounded or injured in their service and become eligible for VA service connected disability compensation.
Yours in service to our Country, Endorsed By,
Ellery D. DeSanto, Jr., AVCM, Harold G. Grimes, Sr.
US Navy 1958-80, (Ret) National Commander
Received from: Emmett