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Military Connection: Paid Sick Days for Federally Employed Vets?

Bill for Paid sick days

Newly proposed legislation will make it possible for wounded Veterans, newly hired by the federal governmentto start their jobs with multiple weeks of paid sick leave.

On January 13, 2015, Massachusetts Representative Stephen Lynch introduced H.R. 313. The bill would amend Title 5, United States Code, providing paid leave to any new federal employee who is a servicedisabled Veteran, rated at a minimum of 30% disabled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The measure, if passed, would give service-disabled Veterans 104 hours of paid sick time after they enter the federal workforce. New federal employees who are not service-disabled Veterans begin their federal careers with zero hours of sick time, and accrue hours over time. The bill would also allow the Veterans to carry over any of the 104 hours they do not use in a given year.

“It is unacceptable that our wounded warrior federal employees, who are just starting out in the federal workforce, are often faced with the difficult choice of having to take unpaid leave to attend their VA appointments or miss their medical visits,” said Rep. Lynch.

Along with Lynch, six additional members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors: Representatives G.K. Butterfield (NC), Gerry Connolly (VA), Elijah Cummings (MD), Blake Farenthold (TX), Walter Jones (NC), and Delegate Eleanor Norton (DC).

“These men and women have made incredible sacrifices to defend our freedom and have been wounded as a result,” Rep. Jones said in a statement. “They deserve an adequate amount of time to tend to their wounds while beginning a new chapter in their careers after they leave the military.”

The proposed legislation has also been backed by the Federal Managers Association. Representative from the group have admitted to seeing first-hand the struggle that service-disabled Veterans have when trying to juggle the job with their necessary medical appointments. Compounding the problem is the narrow scheduling windows at VA medical facilities. The group feels that supporting this bill is the right thing to do.

Senators Jon Tester (MT) and Jerry Moran (TX) also plan to introduce similar legislation in the Senate soon.

You can keep track of H.R. 313 and other Veteran legislation at www.congress.gov or www.Govtrack.usYou are encouraged to contact your elected officials and let them know how you want them to vote on your behalf.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the ArmyNavyAir ForceMarinesCoast Guard,Guard and ReserveVeterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Boardinformation on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Paid Sick Days for Federally Employed Vets? By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill Back in Senate

Clay Hunt

For the second time in just over a month, legislation titled “The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act” has been overwhelmingly passed in the House and is once again on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

In December, 2014, the Clay Hunt SAV Act H.R. 5059 unanimously passed in the House and was sent to the Senate, only to be blocked by out-going Oklahoma Senator, Dr. Tom Coburn. Coburn, who retired after the conclusion of Congress’ final 2014 session,  has been blamed for single-handedly vanquishing the bill. But there are those who believe that the retiring senator, without voters to answer to for re-election, merely took a hit for others in the Senate.

On January 12, 2015, the Clay Hunt SAV Act, named for a Marine Veteran who committed suicide in 2011, was again unanimously passed in the House, this time as H.R. 203. The Clay Hunt SAV Act 2015 is virtually unchanged from its predecessor, which failed in the Senate less than one month ago.

The act, championed by Veteran groups such as the American Legion, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is viewed as legislation that would reduce the number of military and Veteran suicides, and improve access to quality mental healthcare for Veterans.

The $22 million legislation calls for an annual review of established DOD and VA suicide prevention programs in order to streamline the most effective practices. The bill also facilitates the VA’s partnering with mental health nonprofits, creates a website to consolidate the VA’s newly combined mental health resources, and expands established peer support networks. The Clay Hunt SAV Act  also allows the VA to recruit and retain psychiatrists by offering a student loan repayment incentive, up to $120,000, for mental health specialists that go to work for the VA.

With Dr. Coburn no longer in the Senate, supporters of the bill believe that the Clay Hunt SAV Act will pass this time around. Something must be done to reduce, and hopefully eliminate, the high rate of military and Veteran suicides, which have been estimated as high as 22 per day. Will others in this year’s Senate share Dr. Coburn’s sentiment on the legislation and its cost versus potential to effect change? We’ll just have to wait and watch the drama on Capitol Hill unfold.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill Back in Senate: By Debbie Gregory