AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – U.S. Senator for Georgia Jon Ossoff is pushing to get a bipartisan bill signed that would ensure combat-wounded veterans receive equal benefits. It’s been on the senate floor since 2021.
The bill – known as the Major Richard Star Act – is designed to help medically disabled veterans who served less than 20 years.
Right now, these veterans cannot get their full disability and retirement pay without one eating into the other.
”We’ve got to put aside our partisan differences, and do what’s in the national interest,” Sen. Ossoff said. “That means supporting veterans, supporting combat-disabled veterans – in the Augusta area, across our state, and across the country.”
According to a 2021 Department of Defense report, there were almost 2,400 Georgia veterans who retired because of disability and combat-related injuries.
Sen. Ossoff says this bill would allow them, and veterans across the nation, to receive the benefits they deserve.
“In some cases, medical retirement was necessary and they should not be denied retirement benefits because of that medical retirement,” he said. “The bottom line is this – combat-disabled veterans are heroes, we owe a debt a debt of gratitude to them, and they are owed certain benefits by the U.S. government.”
And local veterans we spoke to, are on-board.
“I think that it’s the most positive thing that I have heard in a long time,” said Watha Alston-Hooper, the founder of Women Veteran’s Organization of the CSRA. “Being in the military, it’s like you’re in a fraternity and a sorority. It’s like you have brothers and sisters, people that I don’t know, that I’ve ever seen before in my life – but they need help, just like I need help. I think it’s the most fantastic thing that our senator could do for us.”
Other veterans said, while they hope it gets passed, they want all factors to be considered.
“The fact that they’re trying to really kind of correct some dated policies, to ensure that they get more service members with their benefits, [I’m] one-hundred fully percent behind it,” said Don Clark, a veteran and advocate. “But, I’m also behind the effort of ensuring that we apply the due diligence, that we don’t inadvertently create any second or third order effects.”
Sen. Ossoff said they’re working right now to get the bill through the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Armed Services. He said he’s hoping to have updates within the next couple months.