- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Will you please publicize the injustice to military surviving spouses?

Although 100 percent disabled, my husband was able to receive both his military retirement pay and his VA disability, thanks to Sen. Harry Reid’s bill, S. 170. When he passed away, those concurrent receipt benefits were not passed on to me. Why?

It is only the extension of the dead veteran’s benefits that should be continued for his widow.

The Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset for unremarried military surviving spouses is a “Dead Veteran’s Tax” that is being imposed on the retired service member’s surviving spouse.

I should not be required to remarry (over the age of 57), just to qualify for full SBP and DIC benefits. This is insulting and sexist.

Whatever you can do to encourage members of Congress to cosponsor this legislation — H.R. 178 in the House and S. 260 in the Senate — will help the approximately 57,000 military widows and widowers who are unremarried.

Via the Internet

Dear Janet:

I believe that you and other widows are getting the royal shaft. In the 112th Congress, there are three bills introduced to repeal the SBP/DIC offset: H.R.178, Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act, sponsored by Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican; H.R.1979 sponsored by Rep. Robert Andrews, New Jersey Democrat; and S. 260 sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat.

The House bills are essentially dead as the House Armed Services Committee never really considered them. S. 260 will likely be introduced as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill when the bill comes to the Senate floor. Date unknown. So the issue is very much still alive, but the prognosis for success is guarded.

I urge the Congress to pass the appropriate legislation to ensure that these widows’ are treated fairly as their husbands would have wanted.

Shaft notes

• Kudos to fellow combat veteran Sen. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat, for his recent announcement that he will introduce “The Military Service Integrity Act of 2012,” which could bring criminal penalties to any individual for making a false claim to have served in the military or to have been awarded a military medal, decoration or other device in order to secure a tangible benefit or a personal gain.

The legislation was drafted to comply fully with the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment restrictions outlined recently by the Supreme Court decision United States v. Alvarez, which struck down the original Stolen Valor Act of 2005.

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