September 11, 2018

Hirono, Moran, Tester Bill to Provide Service Disabled Veteran Employees at VA Additional Paid Leave Signed Into Law

Follows Law Signed in 2016 Ensuring FAA & TSA Veterans Don’t Have to Choose Between a Paycheck & Getting the Care They Need

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Saturday, the President signed S.899, the Veterans Providing Healthcare Transition Improvement Act. Introduced by Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the new law ensures veterans with a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability rating of 30% 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. The Senate unanimously passed the bill, known as the Veterans Providing Healthcare Transition Improvement Act, on August 22, 2018.

“This newly signed law will ensure the VA’s disabled veteran employees receive the same additional paid sick leave that is available to other federal agency employees,” Senator Hirono said. “The VA is a critical agency and this law will encourage disabled veterans to continue their service to our country by helping to fill tens of thousands of vacancies at its medical facilities in Hawaii and across the country.”

“Our law helps disabled veterans find a good job after they transition back to civilian life and get the medical care they need for service-related injuries,” Senator Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said. “And even better, that job lets them give back to their fellow veterans by working at the VA. This effort shows what we can get done when we work together and I will keep working with anyone willing to get things done for Montana veterans.”

The Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act, which became effective in November 2016, made available 104 hours of additional paid sick leave for newly hired eligible federal employees to attend medical appointments related to their disability. This law currently applies to most federal agencies, but as certain federal personnel laws do not automatically apply to certain VA medical positions, S.899 will extend this same benefit to VA employees.

S.899 was necessary to ensure that the additional sick leave for these positions will be provided. The Hirono-Moran-Tester law will ensure that moving forward, all newly hired VA physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses, chiropractors, podiatrists, optometrists, dentists and expanded-function dental auxiliaries who are disabled veterans will have parity with their federal counterparts and will not have to face the financial hardship of taking unpaid leave to receive necessary medical treatment. Hawaii is home to approximately 15,000 veterans with a disability rating of 30% or higher according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Veterans Providing Healthcare Transition Improvement Act is supported by the Hawaii Disability Rights Center, National Association of VA Physicians and Dentists (NAVAPD), Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA), American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), AMVETS, 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).

In October 2016, President Barack Obama signed into law Senator Hirono’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Veteran Transition Improvement Act (Public Law 114-242) which extended rights to additional paid sick leave to new disabled veteran employees of the FAA and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Senators Moran and Tester were also cosponsors of that law.