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Bill to Boost Disabilities Payments to Wounded Reserve Soldiers

A bill introduced to the U.S. House last week would increase disabilities payments to wounded Reserve members, putting them on a level with active-duty Purple Heart recipients.

Congressman Jason Altmire (D-PA4) is the Democratic sponsor of the legislation. He said soldiers currently get about 8% more in annual disabilities payments if they're wounded during active duty, rather than reserve duty.

He said with many Reserve members now being "called up" for as long as 18 months, the bill would have the Department of Veterans Affairs consider them equal to active-duty soldiers while they're deployed.

"Moving forward, this levels the playing field to say that regardless of your status and how you got there, if you're wearing the uniform of the country and you're injured and you receive the Purple Heart, everybody's equal," said Altmire.

Altmire said the cost and scope of the bill depend on how many Reserve soldiers are injured moving forward. Just more than 3,500 Reservists have already been wounded during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The "Citizen Soldier Equality Act" is a bipartisan measure co-sponsored by Republican Congressman Geoff Davis of Kentucky.