Amendment would provide family members up to one year of job safety as they care for wounded heroes
Legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) that would provide up to a full year of job protection for a family member who is caring for a service member recovering from combat-related injuries today passed the Senate. The Military Family Job Protection Act, introduced by Senators Barack Obama and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), passed as an amendment to the reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program. This amendment would ensure that military families not be forced to wonder whether their job will still be there when they get back home and would ease the burden on service members who must focus on their own recovery. This approach was endorsed last week by the President's Commission. Obama was also joined in this amendment by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), John Kerry (D-MA), Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE).
"When America's sons and daughters are injured overseas and they return home to begin their recovery, their families should not be forced to choose between caring for a wounded child or keeping their jobs," said Senator Obama. "This legislation would provide a safety net that allows families to offer the care that's necessary for our wounded heroes, easing the burden on the service members. Providing our service members and their families with the care and compassion they deserve is one thing we can still get right about this war."
"Family members should not have to choose between their livelihoods and caring for wounded loved ones and our proposal would remove that burden," Senator McCaskill said.
Many families that are already experiencing financial strains due to the deployment of a loved one face additional financial and employment pressures when that service member returns with severe injuries. It is not uncommon for a severely injured service member to spend months recovering at facilities like Walter Reed. There are cases in which family members have had to choose between caring for a loved one and keeping their jobs. Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a family member may only receive 12 covered weeks of leave in a given year to care for a seriously ill family member.
This legislation will provide employment protections for family members - spouses, children, parents, and siblings -- who are carrying for members of the Armed Forces recovering from illnesses and injuries incurred on active duty for up to one year.
The bill is based on a provision in the Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act (S. 713) that was