(Washington, D.C.) –
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) today
called upon President Bush to honor his campaign commitment to care for
disabled veterans by dropping White House objections to concurrent receipt
of retirement and disability pay by service-disabled military retirees.
Today, the Office of Management and Budget
issued a "Statement of Administration Policy" opposing section 641 of S.
2514, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2003, which would
authorize payment of retired pay and veterans' disability compensation for
disabilities rated at 60 percent or higher. The measure has overwhelming
bipartisan support in the Senate more than 80 Senators endorsed the concept
of rectifying the disability pay disparity currently borne by retired,
"Disabled military retirees are the only
federal retirees who have their retirement pay reduced for every dollar of
disability pay received for injuries incurred in service to America," said
Thomas H. Corey, VVA National President. "Restoring pay equity for military
retirees is not only a matter of national obligation, in many cases it means
the difference between a veteran living in poverty or living with dignity."
The OMB statement provided an explicit
admission by the administration that cost cutting is a higher priority than
caring for disabled veterans.
Corey said that Vietnam and later-era
veterans were beginning to reach the conclusion that the Administration's
campaign pledge to take care of veterans is questionable.
"In his State of the Union message, the
President promised an historic increase in funding for veterans health care.
Instead, we have veterans waiting literally years for appointments. During
the campaign, the President promised repeatedly to do right by veterans.
Now, the Administration proposes to continue denying disabled military
retirees their full earned rights for faithful and hazardous service to
country. If this is the Administration's message to veterans, veterans will
deliver their own message at the polls."
Corey called on all veterans to contact their
Congressmen and Senators and urge that Congress pass a defense bill that
provides for concurrent receipt at a level not less than that offered by the
Senate, with a target of full concurrent receipt for disabled retirees
before the next Presidential election. "Veterans must make their voices
heard and their votes count,” he said. “I ask all veterans to tell Congress:
Stand with us now; fulfill the obligation to disabled military retirees."