I am forwarding a letter sent by the Office of Senator Maria Cantwell.  She was kind enough to inform us of a Senate vote.  We can only hope that the House will reciprocate and bring its bill to the floor for a vote.

   We are grateful to Senator Cantwell for supplying us with this information.

Charles W. Heckman

Veterans' Voting Bloc

Washington State

From:

>To:

>Subject: From the Office of Senator Cantwell

>Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2003 17:48:32 -0400

>

> June 5, 2003

>

>Mr. Charles Heckman

>315 93rd Avenue Southwest

>Olympia, Washington 98512

>

>Dear Mr. Heckman:

>

>I am pleased to report to you that yesterday the United States Senate has unanimously passed legislation to provide full concurrent receipt benefits to our nation's disabled retired veterans. This legislation will reform the current policy that unfairly merges two distinct programs and forces many disabled retirees to forfeit a significant portion of their well-deserved retirement pay.

>

>I have been a long supporter and co-sponsor of the concurrent receipt legislation, which is very important to Washington state. Indeed, more than one out of ten Washingtonians is a veteran, and our state ranks twelfth in the country in veterans population per capita. Last November, I released a policy briefing that found that full concurrent receipt would bring approximately $135 million annually to an estimated 26,300 veterans in Washington state.

>

>However, under current law, most disabled retired veterans are barred from concurrently receiving both their retirement pay and their disability benefits. As a result of this unfair policy, these disabled retired veterans are forced to forfeit a significant portion of the benefits they are due.

>

>Similar legislation was passed in the Senate last year, but the policy was scaled back considerably due to a threatened veto from the Bush Administration. As a result of the compromise legislation, current law provides concurrent receipt only to a very small minority of veterans who fit into one of two categories:

>

>* Any retiree receiving disability compensation (of at least ten percent) whose disability was combat-related and for which the retiree was awarded the Purple Heart; and

>

>* Any retiree with a service-connected disability rated at 60 percent or higher incurred as a direct result of armed conflict, while engaged in hazardous service, in the performance of duty under conditions simulating war, or through an instrumentality of war.

>

>Although yesterday's victory was a clear step forward to addressing this disparity, there is still more to do. The legislation will now be considered in a conference committee with the House of Representatives. Furthermore, the Administration has stated its opposition to the concurrent receipt benefit.

>

>I want you to know that I remain committed to solving this problem, and will continue to fight for a resolution that ensures our nation's veterans the benefits they deserve.

>Sincerely,

>

>Maria Cantwell

>United States Senator

>