WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed S. 899, a bill authored by Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) – members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee – to 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 for the purposes of receiving medical care related to their service-connected condition.
“The Senate took important steps today to help service-disabled veterans better transition into the federal workforce and civilian life,” said Sen. Moran. “This legislation builds on the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act to make certain veterans who sustained wounds or injuries while defending our nation can take time off to seek medical treatment without impacting their livelihood or paycheck. Veterans in Kansas and across the country with service-related disabilities have earned greater flexibility in the workplace to receive the care they need, and I urge my colleagues in the House to quickly pass this sensible legislation.”
“This is common-sense legislation that will ensure the VA’s disabled veteran employees receive the same additional paid sick leave that is available to other federal agency employees,” said Sen. Hirono. “The Senate today affirmed how important it is to eliminate barriers our disabled veterans face to continue serving our country at the VA as this critical agency works to fill tens of thousands of vacancies at its medical facilities in Hawaii and across the country.”
“Veterans looking to serve their fellow veterans by working at the VA should not have to choose between a paycheck or a doctor’s appointment,” said Sen. Tester. “This bipartisan bill strengthens workforce protections for our veterans and establishes better working conditions for those who fought for 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.
- 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.
The VA Veteran Transition Improvement Act is supported by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), National Association of VA Physicians and Dentists (NAVAPD), Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Disabled American Veterans, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), Service Employees International Union – National Association of Government Employees (SEIU-NAGE), and the Federal Managers Association (FMA).