Disabled veterans’ pay stays on the cutting floor

Some that maintain a sense of humor wear caps embossed with the words, “Dysfunctional Veteran – Leave Me Alone,” but the government won’t leave them alone; because it’s about money.

Others are fitted for prosthesis, feel their bodies deteriorate from Agent Orange, or live in a mindless prison due to what they have seen and cannot process. The government does not want to leave them alone either — because it’s about money.

One of the tasks of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is to come up with ideas to lower deficits or redirect entitlements that at least give the impression deficits are reduced. The CBO, as a think tank, spews out “budget options” — without fear of retaliation. This agency is not concerned with the difficulties their “options” create, regardless of the personal costs to forced donors. However; as a CYA, or omen, CBO does claim, “These are not recommendations – only options to inform lawmakers.”

Over 100 options are in a Nov. 14, 2013 study: “Options for Reducing the Deficit 2014 – 2023. In addition to costly changes in Social Security and Medicare there is a lesser known option suggesting a reversal of a law that had corrected a discriminatory denial of benefits for disabled veterans.

This “option” calls for the reversing of a “concurrent receipt” order that allows retired disabled veterans to receive both military retirement and Veterans Administration disability payments.

For over 120 years retired military members were the only faction of the federal government ineligible to receive their rightful concurrent receipt. Doesn’t it seem strange that FBI and CIA Agents were eligible for concurrent receipt although these are not the groups most likely placed in harm’s way? It’s about money.

In 2003, after virtually 20 years of lobbying and presenting its case to the Supreme Court the “Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees” (USDR) was able to get Congress to phase out this discriminatory ban on “concurrent receipt,” but only for retirees with disability ratings of 50 percent or higher.

Consider this: disability compensation may be paid for pain and suffering; but it is also needed to compensate for a loss of income since most disabled veterans usually cannot compete fairly in the job market. Amputees, Agent Orange victims, or PTSD veterans, in most cases, are no match for able-bodied job applicants.

Once again the CBO took a caveat on this particular option when it wrote: “Some retirees would find the loss of income financially difficult.” Is “financial difficulty” defined as; disabled veterans losing 25 to 50 percent of their current income, houses foreclosed on, cars repossessed, forcing bankruptcies and worse? Will this reversal create more suicides for those who cannot face the thought of being part of a poverty or welfare community?

Presently returning veterans represent a dis-appropriate number of the unemployed and homeless. How many more veterans will be added to this number if this law is allowed to be reversed?

For the CBO to claim it would be financially difficult is ludicrous and a disservice to those who have already paid a high price for our country’s freedom, especially when disabled veterans only want what is deserved – a law that does not discriminate against them because of money.

Joel Kinsman
Peachtree City, Ga.

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