News Releases

Murray Introduces Amendment to Help Ensure Combat Experience in Iraq and Afghanistan is Being Recognized

Jul 22 2009

Amendment will launch study on updating DD-214 military forms so that service members who have seen combat are not being denied benefits for combat-related ailments when they return home

- DD-214 change particularly critical to many women service members -

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, announced that she has introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 that requires the Pentagon to begin studying ways to note on military records when service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been in combat situations. Senator Murray introduced the amendment to help ensure that service members in traditional support roles are not being denied benefits for combat-related ailments including TBI and PTSD. Senator Murray has been particularly concerned that women service members are not having their combat experiences noted and are then being denied care by providers who assume they have not been in combat situations. The Senate is currently debating the Defense Authorization bill.

“In Iraq and Afghanistan, where there are no designated front lines, many of our support troops have found themselves on the front lines,” said Senator Murray. “Unfortunately, many of those combat experiences are not recognized on their military medical records. This means that when they return home they are being denied benefits for PTSD, TBI, and other combat-related ailments. This has been a particular problem for women service members who many providers assume have not seen combat. My amendment is a way to ensure that all service members are getting the care they have earned.”

Senator Murray’s amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to compile a report to Congress by March 31, 2010 that outlines ways to improve the tracking of combat experience among service members that are typically in support roles. The report must require:

  • An assessment of what the Department of Defense is doing now to track these situations, 
  • Recommendations on how to improve tracking methods on military forms – primarily on their DD-214 or discharge papers,
  • Recommendations on the best way to note combat experience,
  • An assessment of whether the command structure is conducive to recognizing combat experience among support troops,
  • How recognition of combat experience differs among the Reserves and Active Duty, and
  • An assessment of whether tracking combat experience among support troops could be used to improve judgments on whether service members are eligible for service-connected disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

A Particular Concern for Women Service Members

Senator Murray is particularly concerned that many women service members who have seen combat experience are not having that combat recognized on military forms and are therefore being denied benefits for PTSD and TBI and other conditions by service providers who assume they have not seen combat.

On March 31st, Senator Murray held a press conference with women service members whose experiences in combat situations in Iraq where captured in the documentary film “Lioness.” At the press conference and in the film, these women described their frustration at not being recognized for their combat experiences after returning home.

Then, last week, Senator Murray discussed the need to note combat experience for women service members at a hearing of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Listen to Senator Murray discuss the issue with VA officials at the hearing. (2nd question)
Listen to Senator Murray talk to women veterans about the problem at the hearing. (1st Question)
Read more about or watch the hearing.