FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2009
WASHINGTON – Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) delivered the following remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives this morning during debate on H.R. 2990, the Disabled Military Retiree Relief Act.
*To View Congressman Wilson’s Floor Speech, Click Here*
“Madame Speaker, I rise to support H.R. 2990, the Disabled Military Retiree Relief Act of 2009.
“This bill has a number of good provisions dealing with military and civilian personnel which I appreciate as a 31-year Army National Guard veteran representing Parris Island, the Marine Corps Air Station at Beaufort, the Beaufort Naval Hospital, and Fort Jackson. I want to focus on one section of the bill that would provide concurrent receipt of Department of Defense disability pay and Veterans Administration disability pay to a small number of people discharged from the services with less than 20 years’ service because of injuries sustained while in service.
“This section, which is but a ghost of the proposal submitted by President Obama, is a small, but important step in expanding the population eligible for full concurrent receipt. I am glad that some progress is being made.
“What troubles and disappoints me most, however, is that this bill, which will be attached to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010, could have done so much more had the Democratic leadership of the House made elimination of concurrent receipt and elimination of the widow’s tax a priority from the beginning of this Congress.
“Instead, we were unable to even debate my amendment at the full committee markup of the Defense Authorization dealing with concurrent receipt, the elimination of the Survivor Benefit Plan and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset as a widow’s tax, the extension of health care to early retiring reserve component members, and the use of the misnamed Reserve Fund in the Budget Resolution.
“I would note that since the introduction of my amendment, the Democratic leadership has found a way to fund H.R. 2990, using resources and dollars outside the House Armed Services Committee jurisdiction to provide for just nine months – a very limited concurrent receipt for disabled military retirees.
“While that is a step forward to eliminating some of the injustice inflicted on disabled retirees, it does nothing to cure the injustice still being suffered by most persons losing their rightly earned benefits because of the remaining concurrent receipt prohibitions.
“Had the House leadership seen eliminating these injustices as a priority, they could have allocated the small percentage – less than one percent – necessary in the $15 trillion they provided for government spending in 2010 to 2014. Or, they could have used the Reserve Fund authority as proposed in my amendment.
“Instead we must settle for a small pittance for a small group of retirees.
“I hope that since the authority for this limited concurrent receipt is for only nine months, that the Democratic leadership makes resolving all the concurrent receipt and SBP-DIC offset injustices a real, not a symbolic priority, next year.
“As a nation, we owe more than our gratitude to the brave men and women in uniform and their families, past and present, for the sacrifices they make to protect our freedoms. I know firsthand of the courage of our troops. My late father-in-law Julian Dusenbury, a dedicated Marine, was awarded the Navy Cross for leading the capture of the Japanese headquarters of Shuri Castle on Okinawa. He was shot by a sniper resulting in his being in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He was grateful to have served America.”