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Indiana Legion Legislative Priorities for 2023

1. Funding the Grants for Veterans Services program managed by the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) by expanding charitable gaming opportunities. Revenue for the fund will be provided by proceeds from charity gaming terminals in Congressionally Chartered Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) facilities. Legislation will strictly limit total number of charity gaming terminals allowed in the state and equally share revenue between the IDVA, VSOs and provider. Annual excess funds will be transferred to the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs to be used for grants according to Indiana Code 10-17-13.5.

2. Exempt all military-related income from Indiana income tax

3. Modify IC 21-14-4 Tuition and Fee Exemption for Children of Veterans to extend the same benefit to the “spouse” of a disabled veteran. There should be no age restriction for the spouse of a disabled veteran.

B. Remove Section IC 21-14-4-2.5 dealing with tuition and fee exemption for disabled veterans who enlisted after or otherwise initially served in the armed forces of the United States after June 30, 2011. All eligible children of disabled veterans should be entitled to 100% tuition and fee exemption.

4. Waive daily entrance fee at all Indiana State Parks for Indiana Veterans.

B. Waive daily entrance fee at all Indiana State Parks for disabled Indiana Veterans

5. Veterans forced to retire due to combat injuries have been denied retirement compensation, and it is time we ask Congress to finally correct this injustice. The Major Richard Star Act would support more than 50,000 combat-injured veterans by allowing concurrent receipt of vested longevity pay and VA disability, and the American Legion needs your help to finally pass this critical piece of legislation!

This legislation would end an unjust “tax” on medically retired veterans who are currently subject to an offset in retirement pay for every dollar of VA disability received. These medically retired veterans are the only class of employees forbidden from receiving their full retirement pay and disability compensation. Retirement and disability are two programs with two very different intents provided for very different reasons. No other class of employees are told they are “double dipping” when they receive retirement and disability concurrently.

The American Legion strongly supports ending this policy through the Major Richard Star Act, which would repeal this unfair offset and allow disabled veterans to receive both their retirement pay and their disability compensation. In the House, 319 co-sponsors have signed onto the bill, with 122 Republicans and 197 Democrats. In the Senate, 66 co-sponsors have signed on, with 22 Republicans and 42 Democrats. This type of bipartisan and bicameral support is unprecedented.

Major Richard A. Star was a father, a husband, and a highly decorated veteran who, due to his combat-related injuries, was forced to medically retire from the Army. His plans for disability care were disrupted when he learned that his disability pay would offset the longevity pay he had earned through years in service. Sadly, Major Star lost his battle with cancer on February 13, 2021. The time is now to honor his memory and pass this piece of legislation!

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