October 07, 2016

President Signs Hirono Bill to Increase Paid Leave for Disabled Veterans into Law

President Obama signed Senator Mazie K. Hirono’s (D-HI) bipartisan Federal Aviation Administration Veteran Transition Improvement Act into law today. Disabled veterans who work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will now have access to additional leave to treat service-related injuries.

“Mahalo to President Obama for giving FAA and TSA veteran employees additional paid leave to treat service-related injuries,” said Senator Hirono. “Helping our veterans is a long-term commitment that must continue during their transition to civilian life.”

"The FAA Veterans Transition Improvement Act will provide disabled veterans working at the FAA with time, peace of mind, and flexibility so they can receive the medical care they need,” said Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE). “It was a pleasure working with Senator Hirono on this bipartisan effort on behalf of our veterans. I'm proud to see the bill signed into law today."

“The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), FAA’s largest union representing over 19,000 aviation safety professionals in Hawaii and across the country, would like to thank Senator Hirono for her leadership in sponsoring this important legislation to ensure veterans who continue serving our nation in the FAA have access to the additional paid medical leave they have rightfully earned,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. "More than a third of Hawaii’s FAA workforce are veterans and the new law will provide veterans transitioning into FAA careers peace of mind knowing that they will not have to face the financial hardship of taking unpaid leave to receive medical treatment for their service-connected conditions."

“Veterans who are ill or injured as result of their their military service should not be forced to choose between their jobs or receiving health care for their service-connected disabilities. The VFW thanks Senator Hirono for her leadership in ensuring veterans have access to their earned health care benefits,” said Raymond Kelley, VFW National Legislative Director.

S. 2683 is cosponsored by Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS).

The Hirono law ensures that new disabled veteran employees at the FAA and TSA have access to the sick leave benefit during their first year on the job just as their counterparts in other agencies receive. In 2015, Congress enacted the Wounded Warrior Federal Leave Act which makes up to 104 hours of paid sick leave available to newly hired veteran federal employees with service-connected conditions rated 30 percent or higher. However, since certain federal personnel policies do not automatically apply to the FAA and the TSA, the additional sick leave created by the new law did not apply to these agencies before the Hirono law.

The Hirono law allows veterans with a disability rating of 30 percent or higher who are hired by the FAA or TSA to 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. Currently, approximately a third of FAA employees in Hawaii are veterans. Veterans form over 10 percent of the TSA’s Hawaii workforce.

The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), Federal Managers Association (FMA), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Reserve Officers Association, United Spinal Association, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), support this bill.