I have copied the text from this article to a local page because a number of pages have "vanished" in the last few weeks.

American Legion: Billions for Bahdad, Nothing for Veterans
U.S. Newswire
31 Oct 8:30

American Legion: Billions For Baghdad, Nothing For Veterans
To: National and State Desks
Contact: Steve Thomas, 202-263-2982, Pager 800-759-8888,
PIN 115-8679, or Joe March, 317-630-1253; Pager
317-382-7745, both of the American Legion

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 /U.S. Newswire/ -- "I just don't get it!"
American Legion National Commander Ronald F. Conley said, referring
to the failure of congressional conferees to ignore the specter of
a presidential veto and to approve concurrent-receipt legislation
before Election Day.

"President George W. Bush said we have billions of dollars to
rebuild Baghdad, not to mention Afghanistan," said Conley, whose
2.8-million member Legion is the nation's largest veterans
organization. "At the same time, his non-veteran advisors are
saying they will encourage him to veto any legislation that
corrects the inequity of concurrent receipt, because it is a budget
buster. Well, 402 House members and 82 Senators did not think so
when they voted for correcting a 100-year-old travesty. The
travesty is that service-disabled military retirees, by law, are
the only group of Americans who have to give up their retirement
pay dollar-for-dollar to collect their disability pay."

The 2003 National Defense Authorization that conferees will deal
with after the election contains concurrent-receipt provisions that
would allow service-disabled military retirees to receive their
full military retired pay as well as their disability compensation
from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Under a federal law
passed in the 1890s, service-disabled military retirees receive a
cut in their retired pay equivalent to their VA disability

Consider the case of two service members in the same wartime
military unit. One is injured during military service, leaves the
military after a five-year enlistment and is awarded VA disability
compensation while working a federal civilian job, and continues to
collect full disability after retirement.

The other is injured also, and is given a disability rating by
VA after retiring with 20 years of military service. Both veterans
are federal retirees. But the military retiree is the only federal
retiree that receives a cut in retired pay equal to the amount of

"Obviously this is wrong," Conley said. "I'll tell you
something else that's wrong. Two weeks before a major national
election, the power brokers in Congress stalled the conference
committee, so that no version of concurrent receipt could reach the
president's desk prior to November 5.

"These same non-veteran advisors to the president claim that
paying disability and retirement would jeopardize national defense.
My response to that is this: There is money budgeted in the House
version and even if there wasn't, no civilized nation can afford to
send its young men and women to war, and then play the budget shell
game with them after 20 or 30 years of service defending our

"What signal does this send our brave young men and women who
are now going to war? Is it, 'Don't get wounded, don't get shot,
and don't get ill, because we didn't budget for that?' If we
didn't budget for concurrent receipt, then perhaps we should
rebuild the Baghdads of this world tomorrow and take care of our
veterans today.

"It is the same old story as told by the English poet Rudyard
Kipling, when speaking about the British soldiers referred to as
Tommys when he said: 'Tommy this and Tommy that. Chuck him out,
the brute. But he is the savior of his country when the guns begin
to shoot.'"

/U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/
10/31 08:30

Copyright 2002, U.S. Newswire