WKYT Investigates UPDATE | Major Richard Star Act

A Central Kentucky retired U.S. Army Special Forces soldier wants legislators to do more for veterans.
WKYT Investigates UPDATE | Major Richard Star Act
Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 1:58 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Retired Master Sergeant Leo Skinner isn’t always comfortable talking about his benefits from his 21 years in active service.

“To sit here and enjoy those benefits, and enjoy my freedoms, and know that they’re not receiving those, that makes me pretty emotional because I know they deserve it,” says Skinner.

He has spent several years lobbying for the Major Richard Star Act. Under current law, veterans must serve at least 20 years to receive full retirement and disability pay. The Major Richard Star Act would change the law. It was introduced last year, but never made it to the floor for a vote.

“It was disappointing to see that it didn’t pass because there are, Kentucky in particular, there are nearly 1,000 medical retirees with combat-related injuries that would benefit from this,” he says.

In Congress currently, three of Kentucky’s six representatives - Thomas Massie. Morgan McGarvey, and Andy Barr - support the bill. Skinner wants the support of Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul, too.

“I think it’s crucial because Senator McConnell is as we know the senate minority leader. He’s well established in D.C. His voice, it matters. So does Senator Paul’s voice, it matters. They’re both very well-known individuals. It carries a lot of weight. I think their co-sponsorship to this is extremely important. Not just for lack of better terms, giving it lip service. Their name needs to be on the line,” says Skinner.

Skinner thinks there’s caution to put the bill up for a vote because there’s still no solution to pay for it. There are options, though, and he’s optimistic it’ll be brought to the floor for a vote. Both chambers will be back in session by mid-September.

Currently, 71 Senators support the Major Richard Star Act and 75% of Congress supports it.