Letters to the Editor

Tell Congress to fix disabled veterans inequity

In 2004, Congress passed a law that allowed veterans who retired for longevity with as little as 15 years active duty and 15 years total service to begin receiving veterans disability pay, as well as service retirement pay. This is commonly referred to as "concurrent receipt."

In 2005, Congress passed a law allowing reservists with more than 20 years of service and no active duty to be eligible for concurrent receipt.

In these laws, they created a gross inequity that left behind anyone who retired from active duty for disability but had more than 20 years service, but less than 20 years of active duty. This has created a situation that allows some veterans to receive concurrent receipt when they have less active duty, less time in service and less disability than other veterans.

For example, I am a 100-percent disabled veteran with 21.8 years of service and 17.8 years of active duty. Twenty percent of that is due to combat, and you can add four years to those numbers if you count my active at the U.S. Air Force Academy. However, I am not eligible for concurrent receipt. Meanwhile, other veterans with as little as 50 percent disability, 15 years of active duty or 20 years service (no active duty) are eligible.

As you can see, the veteran with the most active duty, the most time in service and the greatest disability is not eligible for concurrent receipt, while the veteran with less of these is eligible.

Please write your representative and senators and ask them to correct this injustice to a small number of "left behind" disabled veterans.

Manuel J. BettencourtHilton Head Island