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 PRESS RELEASE: 11/11/05

Walden Thanks Veterans for Sacrifice and Service, Supports Additional Legislation to Benefiting Those Who Have Served


Statement reminds Oregonians to thank veterans on Veterans Day and throughout the year

Washington, D.C. - To honor our nation's veterans and celebrate Veterans Day today, U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) announced his support of several pieces of bipartisan legislation making improvements to key military service benefits including health care, veterans' disability and retirement.  Walden has also released a public service announcement to radio and television stations throughout the Second District thanking America's veterans.

"Today we celebrate Veterans Day and honor the 25 million Americans who have served in our Armed Forces.  We honor them for their love of country and their sacrifice.  America has always been a nation devoted to the cause of liberty at home and abroad; and through their bravery, out nation's heroes have advanced freedom's cause and allowed us to be free and secure," said Walden, a member of the House Army Caucus, the Air Force Caucus, the Navy/Marine Corps Caucus and the USO Congressional Caucus.

"Veterans Day is a day to pay tribute to those who have worn our nation's uniforms - to thank them for their service and sacrifice.  It is my hope, however, that we do not limit ourselves to expressing gratitude solely on this designated day, but that we all remember to regularly extend thanks to those who have served the United States so bravely and selflessly," he added.

Walden has announced his support for five pieces of legislation covering a variety of issues related to military and veterans' affairs:

  • H.R. 303, the Retired Pay Restoration Act would allow military retirees who have a disability as a result of military service to receive both their veterans' disability and military retired pay without offset; currently, only veterans with the most severe disabilities receive both of these benefits.
  • H.R. 602, the Keep Our Promise to America's Military Retirees Act, helps the many military retirees unable to receive proper health care through the Tricare system, many of whom live in rural areas like those in central, southern and eastern Oregon.  The bill would help reduce pharmacy costs for military retirees who are physically unable to use Tricare Network Pharmacies due to where they live and helps expand basic health care coverage for the most elderly military retirees by waiving Medicare Part B premiums currently required to enroll in Tricare for Life. 
  • H.R. 783 would reduce from 60 to 55 the minimum age for the receipt of military retired pay for non-regular service, allowing reservists and Guard members who have not reached the age of 60, but who have completed a sufficient number of years of service, to receive earned retirement pay. 
  • H.R. 968 allows participants in the military's Survivor Benefit Plan to stop paying premiums into that plan after they reach the age of 70 and after they have been paying premiums for 30 years.  Veterans currently pay premiums until their death, at which time the Plan begins paying benefits to their spouse; this bill would set a maximum amount of time and money that a veteran must pay into the system.
  • H.R. 3478 allows the families to invest military death gratuity payment into preferred savings plans (Roth IRAs, Health Savings Accounts, Archer Medical Savings and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts) at higher amounts by waiving current caps on how much can be invested in those accounts.  This prevents Uncle Sam from taking a bite out of support given to families coping with the loss of a loved one. 

"Military personnel ensure our nation's freedom and guard her safety, and we have a responsibility to ensure that their service does not go unrecognized and that promises made to them are kept.  We need to secure access to quality, affordable health care and fair retirement benefits for military retirees, and provide support for families of those who give the ultimate sacrifice," said Walden. 

An MP3 audio file of Walden's public service announcement is available on his website at www.walden.house.gov/press/audio/2005/VETPSA.mp3More information on Veterans Day and how individuals can help thank our nation's veterans and active military personnel can be found at www.va.gov/opa/vetsday.           

Congressman Walden has represented the Second District of Oregon since 1999.  He is a Deputy Whip in the House leadership structure and a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Resources.





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