News Releases

Wounded Warriors Act Aims to Mend Shortcomings in Care and Treatment of Wounded Soldiers

Jun 13 2007

Senate Armed Services Committee to hold markup of the bill on Thursday

WASHINGTON – Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), along with a bipartisan group of 29 senators, today introduced the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act and announced that the committee will hold a markup of the bill on Thursday. (Update: the bill passed out of committee - 6/14) The act, which lays out a comprehensive path for the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to address shortfalls in the care of our wounded warriors, is sponsored by Levin, Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain (R-Ariz.), Former Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.), Veterans Affairs Committee Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and 25 other senators.

Problems with the care of America’s wounded warriors were dramatized in a series of articles in The Washington Post in February and in a subsequent joint hearing by the Senate Committees on Armed Services and Veterans Affairs. The bill introduced today would address many of the problems highlighted in the articles and hearings.

Some of the bill’s provisions would:

  • End the inconsistent ratings for the same disabilities by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Veterans Administration (VA);
  • Provide for a seamless transition from DOD to VA care by requiring the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to jointly develop a comprehensive policy on the care and management of service members’ transition;
  • Authorize $50 million for improved diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of members with Traumatic Brian Injury (TBI) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
  • Authorize medically retired service members with disability ratings of 50% or higher to receive the active duty medical benefit for three years after the member leaves active duty;
  • Authorize military and VA health care providers to provide urgent and emergency medical care and counseling to family members on invitational travel orders;
  • Establish a DOD and VA Interagency Program Office to develop and implement a joint electronic health record;
  • Require the Secretary of Defense to establish standards for housing for military out-patients and for military hospitals and clinics and specialty medical care facilities;
  • Increase the minimum severance pay to one year’s basic pay for those separated for disabilities incurred in a combat zone, and six months’ basic pay for all others;
  • Eliminate the requirement that severance pay be deducted from disability compensation for disabilities incurred in a combat zone;

Senator Levin: “The Nation’s shock and dismay at the deplorable conditions unveiled at Walter Reed reflected our people’s support, respect and gratitude for the men and women who put on our Nation’s uniform. They deserve the best care and support we can muster, not shoddy medical care and bureaucratic snafus.”

Sen. Akaka: “This measure will go a long way toward addressing the problems that first gained public attention with the stories about Walter Reed Army Medical Center and will help achieve the goal of providing optimal care and a truly seamless transition for the nation’s wounded warriors.”

Sen. McCain: “Never before has our medical technology been better equipped to help our injured Service-members. Quality patient care must be a priority for those who have served and sacrificed for our country. This legislation calls for much-needed changes in the onerous process by which our men and women in uniform receive medical care. If passed, the bill would provide more comprehensive treatment for our wounded soldiers and their families throughout their recovery, allowing for a smoother transition into life after service.”

Sen. Warner: “Providing for our men and women in uniform, and their families, is our highest priority on the Armed Services Committee, and this bill will provide a comprehensive approach to caring for those, who through their courage, have sacrificed greatly for our country. Our nation owes these brave men and women nothing less than the finest possible care.”

Sen. Murray: “From day one, our service members have answered the call of duty and fulfilled their promises to our country. We need to meet their needs every step of the way from the day they're recruited through their transition back home. Whether it's health care for mental or physical wounds, ensuring clean facilities, or processing claims in a timely manner, our veterans and their families deserve a seamless transition and the best services available. I am so proud to have worked with members of the Senate VA and Senate Armed Services Committees to create this bill and fulfill our promise to our service members and veterans. At the end of the day, our security comes down to people – people doing a job our country asks them to do – and we need to keep our promise to them.”