Rep. Cole Negotiates Concurrent Receipt Solution for America's Veterans
Washington, D.C. – House leaders announced a House-Senate agreement on a landmark strategy to provide concurrent receipt for more disabled veterans than have ever before been covered by law. Congressman Cole has been working with a group of lawmakers to ensure that veterans receive compensation for their tremendous sacrifice.
“This is great news for our veterans. One hundred years is way too long for our veterans to wait for the compensation they deserve for their service to our country. This announcement is another sign of progress on this issue. Having the agreement out in the open, with both sides agreeing to it, increases the prospects of it becoming law,” Congressman Cole said.
Currently, disabled veterans’ retirement benefits are offset by the amount of disability coverage they would receive. The Republican plan seeks to rectify that situation.
"Over 250,000 veterans will benefit from this legislation beginning in January of 2004," Congressman Cole said. "I intend to work with the Blue Ribbon Commission and my fellow members of Congress to address the shortcomings and gaps in the legislation during future sessions of Congress," Cole added.
The Blue Ribbon Commission will be appointed by the White House and Congressional members to study the current VA disability system and recommend future improvements to cover all disabled veterans.
"No legislation is perfect, but this concurrent receipt agreement is the greatest advance on this issue in a century. I am proud to have played a role in this accomplishment," Cole said.
The Fleet Reserve Association, the Air Force Sergeants Association, the Non Commissioned Officers Association, the National Association for Uniformed Service and the Military Officers Association of America have endorsed this agreement.
"Tom Cole's hard work has helped us craft a viable plan to deliver concurrent receipt for Oklahoma's veterans. Tom's dedication has been unwavering, and today we were able to announce a plan to provide concurrent receipt for more veterans and retirees than have ever been covered," said House Majority Whip Roy Blunt.
"Congressman Cole has been steadfast and dedicated to solving this issue," Chairman Duncan Hunter said. "He has played an important role in this process. Every veteran in his district will be grateful for his hard work and determination."
This agreement will be included in the Department of Defense Authorization conference report. If passed it will be effective as of January 1, 2004 and it will include the following:
Blue Ribbon Commission
Establishment of a 13-member, bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission to review the current VA disability system and make recommendations to ensure the system adequately compensates veterans for disabilities they may incur as a result of their service.
The White House and Congressional leaders will appoint commissioners – more than half of whom will be highly decorated combat veterans.
The House plan continues to provide FULL CONCURRENT RECEIPT to ALL PURPLE HEART VETERANS who are retired after 20 years and who have a VA disability rating of 10% – 100%.
Combat-Related Special Compensation
Under current law, combat-related special compensation (CRSC) veterans 60% disabled and above have full concurrent receipt through the Republicans’ Purple Heart Plus plan for disabilities related to combat situations.
The House plan expands FULL CONCURRENT RECEIPT to ALL CRSC veterans with a VA disability rating of 10% – 100%.
National Guard and Reservists
Very few retired reservists and national guardsmen now qualify under current law for the Purple Heart or CRSC concurrent receipt.
The House plan removes this barrier and extends FULL CONCURRENT RECEIPT to ALL RETIRED NATIONAL GUARD AND RESERVISTS (10 – 100% disabled) who are Purple Heart recipients, or who are CRSC qualified.
Remaining Military Retirees
Under current law, none of the remaining military retirees receive concurrent receipt.
The House plan establishes FULL CONCURRENT RECEIPT to the most disabled military retirees 50% disabled and above (50 – 100% disabled). This will be phased in over 10 years with payment beginning in January of 2004.