U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in recently introducing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veteran Transition Improvement Act (S. 899). The legislation would ensure veterans with a disability rating of 30 percent or higher who are hired by the VA in critical medical positions can access additional paid sick leave during their first year on the job to receive medical care related to their service-connected condition.
“I’m pleased to support legislation to assist service-disabled veterans in Kansas and across the country in the transition into the federal workforce and civilian life,” Sen. Moran said. “This legislation builds on the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act to ensure veterans who sustained wounds or injuries while defending our nation can take time off to seek medical treatment without affecting their livelihood or paycheck. Providing men and women with service-related disabilities greater flexibility to pursue medical care is a simple way to show our gratitude for protecting our freedoms.”
Since the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act – led by Sen. Moran – became law in November 2016, 104 hours of additional paid sick leave has been available to newly hired service-disabled veterans for positions in the federal government. The law currently applies to most federal agencies, but personnel occupying certain VA medical positions are not currently eligible.
S. 899 will ensure all newly hired VA physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses, chiropractors, podiatrists, optometrists, dentists and expanded-function dental auxiliaries who are service-disabled veterans will not have to face the added financial hardship of taking unpaid leave to receive necessary medical treatment. With this benefit expanded to these VA medical positions, disabled-veterans may be more incentivized to apply and fill the more than 18,000 vacancies for medical personnel across the VA health system, including 118 vacancies in Kansas.
“It is imperative that our great nation protects veterans seeking medical treatment for service-connected disabilities from discrimination or reprisal,” said American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt. “Under the current Wounded Warrior Federal Leave Act, disabled veterans employed by the VA do not enjoy the same benefits as other veterans who are federal employees. Specifically, the law as currently written excludes them from participating in the paid sick leave program available to other veteran federal employees. On the behalf of our 2.2M members around the world, the American Legion strongly urges our elected officials to pass Senators Hirono, Moran and Tester’s proposed Department of Veterans Affairs Veteran Transition Improvement Act - enabling all qualified veterans in the federal workforce to participate in this important paid sick leave program.”
The VA Veteran Transition Improvement Act is also supported by the National Association of VA Physicians and Dentists (NAVAPD), Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Disabled American Veterans, National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) and the Federal Managers Association (FMA).