- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on Armed ServicesIntroducedMay 15th, 2018
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 5826?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 5826
In-Depth: After working alongside Korean War veteran and prisoner of war (POW) Corporal Raymond Melin of Cornwall, NY, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) introduced this bill to retroactively eliminate the unique and arbitrary three-month limit on combat pay eligibility for Korean War POWs:
“Corporal Ray Mellin was a POW for 37 months, but his time in an enemy prison wasn’t recognized in the way it should have been and it’s about a lot more than just the money. The Korean War is often called ‘the forgotten war,’ but my bill aims to ensure we don’t forget those who served and sacrificed – sometimes the little things say a lot, and I’m hoping my bill will honor these veterans in the way they deserve to be honored.”
Korean War POW Corporal Raymond Mellin, who was held in a Korean prison for 37 months during the Korean War, but only received combat pay for three months, adds, “My fervent wish is to have this injustice made right, not for the monetary reasons, but to honor the remaining few Korean War POWs.”
This is not the first attempt to get full combat pay for Korean War POWs. POW Wilbert “Shortly” Estabrook worked with now-retired Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) for years to try to accomplish this goal. Ultimately, the Army opposed their efforts.
Estabrook believes this bill doesn’t go far enough, and would like to see the next of kin of deceased POWs receive their loved ones’ combat pay. He says, “This issue can be settled with little cost. Combat pay was $45 a month in those days. Perhaps a statutory amount could be established to speed up the process.” However, he isn’t optimistic that this bill will succeed, saying that, “If the chair is of one party and the one introducing from another party it could remain in limbo forever. The Army would not budge on this issue when I worked for its approval for years. Why would they change now?"
There are no cosponsors of this bill.
Of Note: The Combat Duty Pay Act of 1952 established expanded payment parameters for members of the armed services who met certain criteria. Upon its enactment, Congress committed to paying $45 per month to servicemembers serving at least six days in designated frontline combat units or those wounded, injured, or killed by “hostile fire.” It also limited the combat pay of POW-MIAs to “not more than three months.” So while Korean War POWs qualified for combat pay, the law instituted a three-month limit on their eligibility.
After the Korean War, the Navy and Air Force protested the combat pay law, and “broad, geographically-based zonal eligibility” was instituted. This system endures today, leaving Korean War POW-MIAs as the only group excluded from full compensation.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / toos)