Schrader, Shea-Porter Legislation to Help Veterans Included in Defense Authorization Package
Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter’s (NH-01) legislation to protect recalled veterans was selected for inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual authorization package for the Department of Defense.
“I’m very pleased that leadership included our legislation in this year’s defense legislation to protect our veterans and ensure they are able to receive their due retirement pay,” said Rep. Schrader. “Current law does not protect our veterans after they’ve been involuntarily called back into service. In Oregon, I have a constituent who, despite his 100% service connected disability after being involuntarily called back, has had his retirement checks withheld for the past four years. It’s unfair for Uncle Sam to give you severance pay then recall you back up 13 years later, break you, retire you, and then withhold that pay. Our legislation reminds the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect us that we will not turn our backs on them. I’ve always stood up for our veterans, and I will especially continue to stand up to protect our most vulnerable vets.”
“This amendment will help protect 100% service-connected disabled veterans by making sure that they are not forced to repay separation bonuses after having been recalled involuntarily to military service,” said Shea-Porter. “The men and women who have served our country and were seriously injured should not be further burdened by this financial distress.”
Rep. Schrader submitted his Recalled Veterans Protection Act (RVPA), along with three other pieces of legislation to protect Oregon veterans and eliminate government waste, for inclusion in NDAA. The RVPA legislation was made in order by the majority and will be included in the final spending package that will be voted on in the House this week.
The Recalled Veterans Protection amendment would create protections for service members who have been severely injured after being involuntarily called back to service, to ensure they are able to receive their due retirement pay. In Oregon, Sergeant First Class Alan Certain separated from the Army in 1992 under the Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) program, also known as a buyout meant to encourage permanent service member to retire early. In 2005, Certain was involuntarily called back to service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF), and in 2010, he sustained injuries that rated him 100% service connected disabled. Upon his retirement in 2014, Certain should have begun to receive retirement pay. However, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) has withheld the veteran’s retirement checks until he returns the VSI amount in full. Existing law allows the DFAS to waive repayment, but does not provide consistent protection for veterans. Rep. Schrader’s RPVA legislation would support veterans by providing a blanket exemption from VSI repayment should they sustain a total service related injury during involuntary recall.