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Senators Hassan, Shaheen Join in Introducing Bipartisan Legislation to Allow Combat-Injured Veterans to Access Full Military Benefits

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Jeanne Shaheen joined a bipartisan group of their colleagues in reintroducing the Major Richard Star Act, legislation to ensure that more combat-injured veterans can receive their full benefits.

Currently, veterans who were injured during combat and had to retire with less than 20 years of service due to their injuries are not 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. The Senators’ Major Richard Star Act would fix this policy for medically retired combat veterans -- providing them their full VA disability and DOD retirement payments.

“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.”

“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.” 

Senators Hassan and Shaheen are working to support veterans, service members, and their families, and improve care for veterans. As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Senator Hassan helped develop and pass into law the PACT Act, which Senator Shaheen supported, that fundamentally reforms and improves how veterans exposed to toxic substances receive health care and benefits from the VA. Last year, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Hassan to strengthen the Solid Start program was signed into law. The President also previously signed into law Senator Hassan and colleagues’ Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act of 2021 to direct the VA to create a program to recruit military medical personnel who have less than one year left in their service to work in federal health care occupations at the VA. Additionally, Senator Hassan has introduced bipartisan legislation to prioritize veterans’ employment, transition, and education benefits at the VA. Last week, Senators Hassan and Shaheen urged VA Secretary Denis McDonough to address urgent infrastructure failures at the Manchester VA Medical Center and prioritize building a full-service VA hospital in the state.  

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.