Congress passes measure expanding sick leave for veterans with disabilities

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Wounded Warriors Act awaits President’s signature

Veterans with disabilities hired by the federal government will gain immediate access to sick leave benefits, under a bill awaiting President Obama’s signature.

Generally, federal employees do not have sick leave benefits until they begin accumulating time on the job. The Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act provides newly hired veterans with disabilities immediate access to 104 hours of sick leave, which is equivalent to the amount they would have accumulated during their first year.

“The bipartisan passage of the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act signifies our commitment to the dedicated wounded warriors continuing their service to our country by entering the federal workforce,” Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), the bill’s primary sponsor in the House of Representatives, said in a news release. “As wounded warriors transition to civilian life through new careers in the federal workforce, they should not be saddled with the burden of no sick leave, which hinders their ability to keep service-related, medically-necessary appointments.”

The House passed the bill, first introduced last legislative session, on a voice vote September 28. A similar bill in the Senate, sponsored by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), passed in July.

The bill only pertains to veterans deemed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to have a service-related disability of 30 percent or higher.