Concurrent Receipt
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Update: I am pleased to report that this inequity has been lifted from most but not all GIs when President Bush signed the 2008 Defense Authorization Act on 01/28/08, after congress had inserted provisions to provide for retired disabled veterans to receive both their retirement and their disability pay if they were greater than 50% disabled; and for those who were unable to complete 20 years of service due to their disability to receive compensation from both sources. Justice has finally been done to a group of men who were willing to put their lives in danger for their country and then were denied proper compensation when their service resulted in a lifetime of pain and disability.

You may have never heard of concurrent receipt but it's a political battle that I'm right in the middle of right now. Disabled military people who manage to hang in there for at least 20 years for a retirement based on longevity (time served) used to have to choose between receiving their disability pay from the Veterans Administration, or their retirement pay from their branch of the military but they could not have both.

This was based on laws that went back 100 years or so. The ironic part was that a 20 year veteran who chose the VA disability money received the same amount of money as someone who had served 6 months and been injured and left the service. So his 20 years of service, which presumably was difficult and painful due to his disability was for nothing. To add insult to injury, the military is the only branch of the government service which faces this concurrent receipt provision. A young man who serves a year or two and is disabled in the military can go to work for the post office or the park service or the CIA or anywhere in the federal bureaucracy, serve 20 years, and collect a federal pension AND VA disability payments.

Only the GI is picked out for discriminatory and unfair treatment. The young man or woman who was injured while protecting the United States and then stayed on duty despite their disabilities and served out a complete career.

To their credit, several members of congress are trying to right this wrong, but changing the direction of the congress is like changing the course of a battleship, it takes time and patience. It may also take a new Captain, since the current president is happy to send more and more young men and women to Iraq to become disabled veterans but he vetoes pay raises and medical care for them. But that's another story...