Stan Spangle Sr.: Veterans retired/disability pay bill introduced

Mar. 01, 2013 @ 02:34 AM

Even though a huge amount of time has been spent (and wasted) arguing back and forth about the budget and sequestration, a lot of legislation has been introduced. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.,  has again submitted S.234, The Retired Pay Restoration Act.
This bill allows all military retires who have a Veterans Affairs disability rating of 10-40 percent to receive their retired pay and their VA disability pay. Sen. Reid stated:  “This legislation addresses an injustice against 625,000 disabled veterans across the country face.” This surge of bills for veterans had to do with disability and education pay.
Vietnam vets: The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a list of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships that operated in and around Vietnam and could have been exposed to Agent Orange. Exposure is presumed for any veteran with duty or visitation within the country or on its inland waterways. Veterans who served aboard open sea ships that did not enter inland waterways cannot claim exposure unless the ship docked to shore, sent small boats ashore, or sent crew members ashore. The veteran must provide a personal statement of going ashore. The VA adds ships to this list only after confirming service based information in official records of ship operations. Currently, 244 ships are on this list. To find out if your ship is on this list, go to; http:// www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/shiplist/
Last week at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on this matter (sequestration) the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, of the Department of Defense said that if the sequestration happened, TRICARE would be short $2 billion to $3 billion. That’s right, at least $2 billion. Also the end of the current Continuing Resolution that is funding our entire federal government will expire the end of March. If Congress simply extends the CR to the end of the 2013 fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2013) then DoD will be short even more billions of dollars. That would keep funding at last fiscal year’s level (currently $1.043 trillion) or even lower.
It seems that more and more people on both sides of the aisle are expressing an interest in adopting the “chained CPI” calculation. This type of calculations would lower the COLA on all COLA effected programs — Social Security, military retired pay, veterans disability pay, SBP, federal pensions, and on, and on it goes. The discussion turns now to what would all of this money be used for. The Republicans wish to apply the savings to the deficit reduction, and Senate Majority Leader Reid intends to introduce a bill to use it to pay for the “Doc Fix.” I have to wonder if Congress will lose their cost of living raise. I guess not, but fair is fair.
I’m working on establishing a channel to file claims for the “contaminated water” problem at Camp Lejeune. I understand that now the start date goes back to 1950; that brings in several thousand more people. I’ll put out the word as I get it. I also need to get the claim forms. Mark your calendar, April 6 is our next veterans get-together at Highland UMC.
Semper Fi.Pray for the families of the fallen.

Stan Spangle Sr. is a 21-year veteran of the Marine Corps, serving in Korea and Vietnam. He’s a member of numerous veterans organizations. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.