By Jessica Wehrman
Dispatch Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday signed into a law that would allow veterans in working as doctors, nurses and other medical positions at the Department of Veterans to take a paid sick leave related to their service-related conditions or injuries.
The bill, now a law, was introduced by Reps. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington and Mark Takano, D-California, in the House and by Sens. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, and Jon Tester, D-Montana. It fixed a loophole in current law that prevented newly hired veterans in front-line medical positions at the Department of Veterans Affairs from taking paid sick leave. The law will allow those veterans to receive the same benefits that veteran employees in other federal agencies currently receive.
Previously, veteran employees in their first year of medical work at the VA would have to use accrued overtime or unpaid leave to receive care for their service-connected injuries.
“When a careless and regrettable oversight at the federal level punishes the men and women who have and continue to sacrifice and serve our country, action must be taken,” Stivers said. “I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their help in righting this wrong, and I’m eager to see it take effect so that our veterans can get the care they need.”
The law closes a loophole in the 2015 Wounded Warrior Federal Leave Act. That law made paid sick leave available to some new veteran federal employees with service-connected conditions rated at 30 percent or more disabled so they could receive treatment. The law did not, however, include “Title 38” employees, which includes VA physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses, chiropractors, podiatrists, optometrists, and dentists.