WKYT Investigates: Major Richard Star Act
A retired Army Master Sergeant is working against the clock, trying to get enough votes to pass a bill in Washington from his hometown of Paris.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The portraits and the accolades on the walls of Retired Army Master Sergeant Leo Skinner’s home paint a picture of his family’s service to our states. Skinner’s eye patch and hearing aide show that service more vividly. They reveal a title he’s reluctant to use - disabled veteran.
“I had a mild stroke, coupled with an optic nerve stroke. Those can be attributed to a combination of things according to my doctor, moderate repetitive moderate traumatic brain injury from percussion in combat, stress from combat PTSD,” notes Skinner.
The Green Beret receives concurrent disability and retirement pay, because he was in active service for more than 20 years. If servicemembers are wounded, or medically retired, before the 20-year threshold, a portion of their retirement disability pay is taken out of their paycheck. The Wounded Warrior Project estimates the current number affected to be 42,000 veterans. Skinner’s estimates are closer to 52,000.
The Major Richard Star Act is a bipartisan bill that, if passed, would give veterans with combat-related injuries, full disability and retirement pay, regardless of the number of years they served.
“It wasn’t their fault that they were injured in combat, but yet they, because they didn’t serve the full 20 years, they’re having a direct offset which is affecting them financially,” he says.
“I know hundreds and hundreds of veterans, and I can tell you, from those folks, from those conversations, from doing therapy with those folks, from working with those people, this would be an enhancement that would not only help them in terms of their daily activity with their families and things like that, but it would help them go ahead and take some time to go ahead and seek the treatment that they need,” notes retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd Jackson. “They were forced out through a medical retirement. It’s almost a levied tax against them.”
The social worker says some of his clients don’t have time to get the physical or emotional help they really need, because they’re busy working another job to make up for the loss in retirement disability pay. He says the Major Richard Star Act could help wounded veterans heal.
Right now, three Kentucky congressmen have co-sponsored the bill, including Representatives Andy Barr, Thomas Massie, and John Yarmuth. Neither of Kentucky’s U.S. senators have co-sponsored the bill introduced in the senate.
We reached out to both Kentucky senators’ teams October 21st. Senator Mitch McConnell’s team says he “continues to review legislation to help Kentucky veterans” but is not currently commenting on the Major Richard Starr Act. Senator Rand Paul’s team did not respond to our requests.
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