Casey: Federal Government Has Failed to Implement Rules that Would Allow Military Families to Care for Sick Loved One

In 2008, Family Medical Leave Act Was Expanded to Military Caregivers but Feds Haven’t Issued Required Rules

In Letter to OMB, Senator Calls on Agency to Implement Rules to Help Military Families

Washington, DC- With the 20th anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) approaching, Senator Casey, today, has called on the federal government to finally implement rules that would allow caregivers protected leave to take care for sick and wounded service members.  In 2008, the FMLA was expanded to include military caregivers but the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has yet to issue final rules that would allow the policy to go forward. In his letter, Senator Casey called on OMB to move forward with the rules immediately.

“The men and women of our military make incredible sacrifices. When they are wounded and need assistance they should not have to worry that their caregivers – a spouse, parent, or child – may lose their job.  We owe them this peace of mind,” Senator Casey said. “Four years is far too long for OMB to be sitting on these rules. It’s time to get these rules out the door so our military caregivers can have the same rights in the workplace as anyone else.”

In the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of FY 2008 and FY 2010, the FMLA was expanded to give caregivers of seriously injured service members and veterans the ability to take leave for up to 26 weeks a year without the threat of losing their job. It has been more than four years since Congress extended the FMLA to cover military caregivers, yet to date, not one caregiver has been able to use this extra job-protected leave because regulations defining “seriously injured” have not be finalized.

Since 2008, 19,708 service members have been wounded in action while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Veterans Administration (VA) has also witnessed a steady increase in the number of veteran patients with service connected disabilities.  In 2011, the VA had more than 1.1 million veteran patients with service related disability rates of 50 percent or more.  That is a 167 percent increase in the number of VA patients with this disabilities classification than in 2001.  Because causality fatality rates have dropped from 15.8 percent in Vietnam to 9.4 percent during Iraq and Afghanistan wars, more service members and veterans need their families to help them recuperate.  Congress expanded FMLA to meet this need, which has not dissipated.

This plan has been endorsed by the National Military Family Association and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Veterans and Military Families Task Force. The full text of Senator Casey’s letter to OMB is below:

The Honorable Jeffrey Zients

Deputy Director for Management

Office of Management and Budget

Eisenhower Executive Office Building

Room 251

1650 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20503

Dear Deputy Director Zients,

In less than a week, the nation will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA).  This legislation has provided millions of families the peace of mind of knowing that they can take care of their families without losing their jobs when called upon. However, an important group, our nation’s military caregivers, has not been able to take advantage of FMLA to date. In the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of FY 2008, the FMLA was expanded to give caregivers of seriously injured service members the ability to take leave for up to 26 weeks a year without the threat of losing their job. It has been more than four years since Congress extended the FMLA to cover military caregivers, yet to date, not one caregiver has been able to use this extra job-protected leave because regulations defining “seriously injured” have not be finalized as stipulated in the FY 2010 NDAA.   I write today to urge the Office of Management and Budget to expedite these final regulations.  Our military and veteran caregivers deserve to enjoy the same peace of mind as others in our nation.

Since 2008, 19,708 service members have been wounded in action while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Veterans Administration (VA) has also witnessed a steady increase in the number of veteran patients with service connected disabilities.  In 2011, the VA had more than 1.1 million veteran patients with service related disability rates of 50 percent or more.  That is a 167 percent increase in the number of VA patients with this disabilities classification than in 2001.  Because causality fatality rates have thankfully dropped from 15.8 percent in Vietnam to 9.4 percent during Iraq and Afghanistan wars, more service members and veterans need their families to help them recuperate.  Congress expanded FMLA to meet this need, which has not dissipated.

Equally as important as the need to ensure that families are able to help service members recover is the need to make sure families do not have to make the hard choice between helping their service member and keeping their job.  As we continue to solidify the nation’s economy, citizens are still concerned about their job security.  Without FMLA for military caregivers, this tough choice continues to plague families.  This false choice must be eliminated.  

FMLA for caregivers continues to fulfill our compact with service members to provide them the resources they need while recovering.  The assistance of a family member is best resource of all.  Therefore, I urge you to fulfill Congress’ desire and implement the military caregiver expansion of FMLA swiftly.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

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