Combat-Related Special Compensation to Go to Veterans
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
National Guard Bureau
WASHINGTON, May. 9, 2003 A provision included in the 2003 National Defense Authorization Act will compensate an estimated 35,000 retired veterans for disabilities resulting from combat injuries, wounds and diseases.
For what DoD is calling combat-related special compensation, the payments are tax-free and could range from $105 up to $2,100 or more each month, said Navy Capt. Chris Kopang, DoD's director of military compensation.
The new provision also covers veterans whose disabilities resulted from actions such as live-fire training exercises, tactical exercises and airborne operations, he added.
"'Combat related' includes if they were training for combat, if the disability was a result from an instrumentality of war, or a result of hazardous duty they were performing," he explained. "However, this does not only apply to injuries, but also to disease."
Kopang said the Defense Department, which is solely responsible for determining eligibility for compensation, expects the application form to be available by the end of May on the Defense Manpower Data Center Web site at https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/crsc/. He said he expects to begin receiving applications from eligible veterans as early as June.
Veterans eligible for the special compensation must have completed at least 20 years of service and have a qualifying combat-related disability as determined by their military department. They must also be currently receiving 60 percent or higher disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs, he pointed out.
Kopang said that veterans determined to be ineligible will have an appeal process through the secretary of defense.
Although not every disabled veteran will be eligible for this special compensation, Kopang said the measure is a relief for those who can qualify and who have had their retirement incomes reduced because of disability pay.
Current law prohibits payment of both disability and retired pay, often referred to as concurrent receipt.
"I know it's been frustrating for a lot of retirees who have given up their retired pay to get disability compensation and who say 'I'm only disabled because of service I provided to my country,'" Kopang said. "This is a good news story for them, because it reflects the fact that their service was valuable and they should be compensated accordingly," he added.
Kopang said that each of the military services will have designated offices and personnel to help veterans through the application process and to help them review eligibility requirements and choose which compensation program is most beneficial.