Legislation Addresses Key Recommendation of Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors
WASHINGTON (July 27, 2007) - Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barbara Mikulski today announced that they are introducing legislation to extend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for up to six months for spouses and parents of soldiers who have been injured in combat. The Clinton-Mikulski bill addresses a key recommendation of the Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors.
In its review, the Commission found that 33 percent of active duty, 22 percent of reserve component, and 37 percent of retired/separated service members report that a family member or close friend relocated for extended periods of time to be with them while they were in the hospital. In addition, 21 percent of active duty, 15 percent of reserve component, and 24 percent of retired/separated service members say friends or family gave up a job to be with them or act as their caregiver. To address this situation and help support these caregivers, the Commission recommended strengthening family support programs by extending the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for up to six months for spouses and parents of seriously injured soldiers.
The Clinton-Mikulski bill will enact this recommendation. Their bill will amend the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow up to six months leave for a family member of a service member who has a combat-related injury and meets the eligibility requirements in the law.
The Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors was established in March 2007 with the specific goals of conducting a comprehensive review of services the government currently provides to our wounded warriors and delivering recommendations to the President, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
"The families of our servicemen and women face extraordinary demands as they struggle to care for loved ones injured in service to our nation. It is clear that they are not receiving the support they need and this is a step we can make immediately that will make a real difference. Our men and women in uniform have made tremendous sacrifices on our behalf and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to make sure they have the care and support they need," said Senator Clinton.
"Our military men and women make great sacrifices and honor their country by volunteering to serve. Their families share the burden of this war. We must recognize and honor their service and sacrifice, not just with words, but with deeds," said Senator Mikulski. "That's why I'm fighting for the spouses and children of our true American heroes to have extended leave from their jobs when their loved ones are injured fighting a war for America, because service members and their families have enough to worry about."
"This bill would do a tremendous amount to support the families that are doing so much to support our country," said Debra L. Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families--the organization that drafted and led the fight to pass the Family & Medical Leave Act. "We have long known that workers need and deserve job-protected time off when family members face serious health problems. It is most appropriate to extend that leave for families of service members injured in combat. We urge Congress to move quickly to pass the Clinton-Mikulski bill."
Source: Senator Mikulski's Office
Editor's Note: Barbara Mikulski is the National Chair of the Hillary For President Campaign.