04/26/05 — Carr tells senators U.S. needs to take care of veterans

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Carr tells senators U.S. needs to take care of veterans

By Turner Walston
Published in News on April 26, 2005 1:50 PM

A Wayne County veteran got the ear of Washington officials recently and told them the United States needs to take better care of its war heroes.

Bill Carr, 67, a retired Marine officer who rose through the ranks, is the senior vice commander and chaplain of the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Earlier this month, he was part of the March on the Senate, in which representatives of several veterans' organizations brought their concerns to U.S. senators. The Rosewood man was selected to represent North Carolina's Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Bob Scott, Sen. Elizabeth Dole and Bill Carr

Bob Scott, left, and Bill Carr, right, pose with Sen. Elizabeth Dole in Washington, D.C. last week.

Carr spoke to North Carolina senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr.

"I didn't think they'd let me in," Carr said. "I'd never seen a U.S. senator before."

Carr said he and Maj. Bob Stone, also of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, were surprised with the amount of time they had to speak to Burr.

"I was told that all I was going to get was a handshake from him, but I stayed with him about 45 minutes," he said.

One of the issues Carr brought up with the senators was the military death benefit. Currently, the families of servicemen killed in the line of duty receive $12,000.

"Their families should get at least $100,000, and both senators went along with that," Carr said. He hoped the benefit increase would be retroactive. "That's what we're pushing for," he said.

Carr said he was impressed with the Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) introduced recently for veterans that endure combat-related injuries. "I never thought they'd come through with that," he said.

Now, Carr's group is pushing for CRSC for all injured veterans. The Military Order of the Purple Heart supports extending the compensation to veterans who were medically retired with less than 20 years of service. Currently eligible veterans must have 20 years of service.

"Some guys on the CRSC couldn't get their 20 years in because they got shot up," he said, "so we think they should get it, too."

The veterans group also seeks to allow concurrent receipt of military retired pay and VA compensation.

Carr said in recent years, military retirees lost some medical benefits. "We used to go out here to Seymour Johnson to the doctor's office there," Carr said. "We still get our medicine out there, but we can't see the doctors.

"Some of us are lucky, we can go to the VA, but some are not service-connected, and they can't."

Carr said he was pleased with the senators' response.

"We went up there just to express our sincere appreciation for what the senators are doing, have done and will do for all the veterans," he said.

"We want them to know it's important that our senators send a message to the brave men and women of North Carolina that the VA (Dept. of Veterans Affairs) will be there for them. So we're going to stay on with the VA and make sure we support the troops."