FMA Celebrates Another Extension of Disabled Veteran Leave
Score another legislative victory for the Federal Managers Association (FMA)! In last month’s ‘Hear it from FMA’ we touted the successful repeal of Department of Defense policy that reduced long-term TDY per diems. And this past Wednesday, August 22, Congress finalized passage of Department of Veterans Affairs Veteran Transition Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 899), which will provide disabled veteran leave to qualified new hires of Title 38. This bipartisan bill, authored by Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) is headed to President Trump’s desk for his signature into law.
In 2015, Congress created disabled veteran leave as a new leave category for federal employees under the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act (P.L. 114-75). The idea for this leave was conceived by 2015 FMA Manager of the Year Sue Thatch. As a hands-on manager, Sue recognized the constraints newly hired federal employees faced when they tried to attend medically necessary appointments to treat military service related disabilities. Disabled veteran leave provides a one-time credit of 104 hours to any federal employee hired on or after November 5, 2016, who is a veteran with a service-connected disability rated at 30 percent or more for purposes of undergoing medical treatment for such disability for which sick leave could regularly be used. That effort, led by Reps. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran, covered approximately 85 percent of the federal workforce, including Title 5 and postal service employees.
The final bill in 2015 did not apply to VA medical positions specified in Section 7401(1) of Title 38 U.S. Code, which include physicians and nurses. America’s disabled veterans who continue serving our nation and their fellow veterans in the VA as medical professionals deserve to have access to disabled veteran leave they have rightfully earned with their sacrifices. S. 899 extends disabled veteran leave to eligible federal employees within Title 38 and provides parity with their counterparts in other federal agencies. The bill was necessary to allow new disabled veteran employees, who have already given so much in service to our country, to not have to choose between getting a paycheck and getting the care they need during their first year on the job.
FMA worked with Sen. Hirono to get this commonsense legislation passed through Congress. S. 899 was also cosponsored by the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Tester, the original champion in the Senate. This success builds on the original bill, as well as the 2017 passage of the FAA Veterans’ Preference Protection Act, which extended disabled veteran leave to Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration veteran employees covered by Title 49.
FMA is excited to see disabled veteran leave get extended across the federal government to any eligible veteran. We are grateful for the bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives who have worked on this, from the original legislation through the latest success. And we are especially proud that the concept and impetus for disabled veteran leave originated with an FMA member who was looking out for her employees. For more than 100 years, FMA has worked to fulfill our motto of advocating excellence in public service, and this legislative win is yet another example of meeting that ideal.
Posted in Hear it from FMA