Text: H.R.3502 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (09/07/2007)


110th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 3502


To provide for the prompt implementation of those recommendations of the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors that require congressional action.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 7, 2007

Mr. Moran of Kansas (for himself, Mr. Salazar, Mrs. Emerson, Mr. Young of Alaska, and Mrs. Myrick) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services, and in addition to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs, Education and Labor, Oversight and Government Reform, and House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To provide for the prompt implementation of those recommendations of the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors that require congressional action.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title; table of contents.

(a) Short title.—This Act may be cited as the “Wounded Warriors Commission Implementation Act of 2007”.

(b) Table of contents.—The table of contents for this Act is as follows:


Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Purposes.

Sec. 3. Clarification of Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs roles in disability evaluation system for retirement of members for disability.

Sec. 4. Elimination of disability rating requirement for retirement of members for disability.

Sec. 5. Transition payments to members of the Armed Forces retired for combat-related injuries.

Sec. 6. Department of Veterans Affairs bonus payments to veterans in rehabilitation programs.

Sec. 7. Department of Veterans Affairs disability compensation.

Sec. 8. Presumption of service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sec. 9. Extended benefits under TRICARE for primary caregivers of members of the uniformed services who incur a serious injury or illness on active duty.

Sec. 10. Family Medical Leave Act.

SEC. 2. Purposes.

The purposes of this Act include—

(1) eliminating the 30 percent threshold before a member of the Armed Forces may be retired for disability and ensuring that every member who is retired for disability will receive a lifetime annuity payment, based on the member’s rank and years of military service;

(2) clarifying that, because members retired for disability will be eligible for retired pay under chapter 71 of title 10, United States Code, such members, under chapter 55 of such title, will also be eligible for lifetime, comprehensive health care coverage and pharmacy benefits for themselves through the TRICARE program of the Department of Defense;

(3) requiring that disability-related payments and benefits for veterans reflect three components: transition payments, earnings-loss payments, and quality-of-life payments;

(4) creating a presumption of service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder;

(5) extending TRICARE program benefits to caregivers of members who incur a serious injury or illness while serving on active duty; and

(6) authorizing servicemember family leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

SEC. 3. Clarification of Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs roles in disability evaluation system for retirement of members for disability.

The objective of the Department of Defense disability evaluation system is to determine whether an injured member of the Armed Forces is fit to perform the duties of the member’s office, grade, rank, or rating, and the objective of the Department of Veterans Affairs disability evaluation system is to establish the disability rating, compensation, and benefits programs for the member if the member is retired or separated because of physical disability.

SEC. 4. Elimination of disability rating requirement for retirement of members for disability.

(a) Members on active duty for more than 30 days.—Section 1201(b) of title 10, United States Code, is amended—

(1) by inserting “and” at the end of paragraph (1);

(2) by striking “; and” at the end of paragraph (2) and inserting a period; and

(3) by striking paragraph (3).

(b) Members on active duty for 30 days or less.—Section 1204 of title 10, United States Code, is amended——

(1) by inserting “and” at the end of paragraph (2);

(2) by striking “; and” at the end of paragraph (3) and inserting a period; and

(3) by striking paragraph (4).

(c) Termination of separation of members in lieu of retirement.—

(1) MEMBERS ON ACTIVE DUTY FOR MORE THAN 30 DAYS.—Section 1203 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

“(c) Termination.—After the date of the enactment of the Wounded Warriors Commission Implementation Act of 2007, the Secretary concerned shall no longer separate a member described in section 1201(c) of this title from the member’s armed force under the authority of this section. Instead, section 1201 of this title shall apply with respect to the member.”.

(2) MEMBERS ON ACTIVE DUTY FOR 30 DAYS OR LESS.—Section 1206 of title 10, United States Code, is amended—

(A) by striking “Upon” and inserting “(a) Separation.—Upon”; and

(B) by adding at the end the following new subsection:

“(c) Termination.—After the date of the enactment of the Wounded Warriors Commission Implementation Act of 2007, the Secretary concerned shall no longer separate a member otherwise covered by subsection (a) from the member’s armed force under the authority of this section. Instead, section 1204 of this title shall apply with respect to the member.”.

SEC. 5. Transition payments to members of the Armed Forces retired for combat-related injuries.

(a) Transition payment election.—A member of the Armed Forces who is retired pursuant to section 1201 of title 10, United States Code, by reason of a combat-related injury, may elect to receive a transition payment from the Secretary of Defense under subsection (b) or a transition payment from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs under subsection (c).

(b) Department of Defense transition payment.—A transition payment under this subsection is a monthly payment made by the Secretary of Defense to a person described in subsection (a) after the retirement of the member. The payments shall be made for the first three months beginning on or after the effective date of the retirement of the member. The amount of the transition payment shall be equal to the person’s most recent monthly basic pay as calculated under section 201 of title 37, United States Code.

(c) Department of Veterans Affairs transition payment.—

(1) AVAILABILITY OF TRANSITION PAYMENT.—A transition payment under this subsection is a payment made by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to a person described in subsection (a) who is enrolled in a rehabilitation program under chapter 31 of title 38, United States Code, during the period in which such person is so enrolled. The amount of a payment under this paragraph shall be determined pursuant to the study conducted under paragraph (2).

(2) STUDY ON DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS TRANSITION PAYMENT AMOUNT.—By not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall begin a six-month study to determine the appropriate amount of the transition payment to be made under paragraph (1). Upon completion of the Study, the Secretary shall submit to Congress and the President a report containing the results of the study.

(d) Combat-related injury defined.—In this section, the term “combat-related injury” means an injury or illness incurred in the line of duty in a combat zone designated by the Secretary of Defense or attributable to the special dangers associated with armed conflict or the preparation or training for armed conflict.

SEC. 6. Department of Veterans Affairs bonus payments to veterans in rehabilitation programs.

(a) Bonus payments.—The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall pay to each veteran who is enrolled in a rehabilitation program under chapter 31 of title 38, United States Code, or another rehabilitation program approved by the Secretary an annual bonus payment for each year of such rehabilitation program completed by the person.

(b) Amount.—As part of the study required by section 5(c)(2), the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall also determine the amount of the bonus payment to be made under subsection (a). In the case of a veteran who receives a transition payment under section 5, the maximum aggregate amount of the bonus payments that an individual may receive under this section is the amount equal to 25 percent of the amount of the transition payment elected by the individual under subsection (a) of that section.

(c) Study on bonus payments.—Beginning on the date on which the Secretary of Veterans Affairs first makes a bonus payment under subsection (a), the Secretary shall conduct a five-year study of the bonus payments. Upon the completion of the study, the Secretary shall submit to Congress and the President a report on the study that includes each of the following for the period covered by the study:

(1) The number of veterans enrolled in a rehabilitation program under chapter 31 of title 38, United States Code.

(2) The number of veterans who completed such a program.

(3) The number of veterans who obtained gainful employment after completing such a program.

(4) A comparison of the average wages earned by veterans who complete such a program and the average wages of veterans with a service-connected disability rated at 20 percent or more which was incurred or aggravated in the active, military, air, or naval service who do not complete such a program.

SEC. 7. Department of Veterans Affairs disability compensation.

(a) Payments for wartime disability compensation.—Notwithstanding section 1110 of title 38, United States Code, a person receiving a transition payment under section 5 is not entitled to compensation under subchapter II of chapter 11 of such title.

(b) Quality-of-life payments.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall pay to each veteran who was a member of the Armed Forces who is retired pursuant to section 1201 of title 10, United States Code, by reason of a combat-related injury, as that term is defined in section 5(d), a quality-of-life payment to compensate for the non-work related effects of a combat-related injury. Such payment shall be in addition to any payment to which the person is entitled under subchapter II of chapter 11 of title 38, United States Code.

(2) QUALITY-OF-LIFE PAYMENT DEFINED.—For purposes of this section, the term “quality-of-life payment” means the amount of money necessary to compensate an individual described in paragraph (1) for the negative non-work related effects a service-connected disability has on the individual’s life, as determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

(c) Earning loss payments.—The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall pay to each veteran who has received a transition payment under section 5 but is no longer eligible for such a payment an earning loss payment in the amount necessary to compensate the veteran for the veteran’s lower earning capacity as a result of the veteran’s combat-related injury, as determined by the Secretary.

(d) Schedule for rating disabilities.—In adopting and applying a schedule of ratings of specific injuries or combination of injuries under section 1155 of title 38, United States Code, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall take into consideration the reduction in the quality of life of a veteran with each specific injury or combination of injuries.

SEC. 8. Presumption of service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder.

For purposes of section 1110 of title 38, United States Code, and subject to section 1113 of such title, post-traumatic stress disorder in a veteran who served in the active military, naval, or air forces in support of a contingency operation after October 7, 2001, shall be considered to have been incurred in or aggravated by such service, notwithstanding that there is no record of evidence of such illness during the period of such service.

SEC. 9. Extended benefits under TRICARE for primary caregivers of members of the uniformed services who incur a serious injury or illness on active duty.

(a) In General.—Section 1079(d) of title 10, United States Code, is amended—

(1) by redesignating paragraphs (2) and (3) as paragraphs (3) and (4), respectively; and

(2) by inserting after paragraph (1) the following new paragraph (2):

“(2)(A) Subject to such terms, conditions, and exceptions as the Secretary of Defense considers appropriate, the program of extended benefits for eligible dependents under this subsection shall include extended benefits for the primary caregivers of members of the uniformed services who incur a serious injury or illness on active duty. In addition to the extended benefits described in subsection (e), such extended benefits may include aide and attendant care.

“(B) The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe in regulations the individuals who shall be treated as the primary caregivers of a member of the uniformed services for purposes of this paragraph.

“(C) For purposes of this section, a serious injury or illness, with respect to a member of the uniformed services, is an injury or illness that may render the member medically unfit to perform the duties of the member’s office, grade, rank, or rating and that renders a member of the uniformed services dependant upon a caregiver.”.

(b) Effective Date.—The amendments made by subsection (a) shall take effect on January 1, 2008.

SEC. 10. Family Medical Leave Act.

(a) Servicemember family leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.—

(1) DEFINITIONS.—Section 101 of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (29 U.S.C. 2611) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(14) ACTIVE DUTY.—The term ‘active duty’ means duty under a call or order to active duty under a provision of law referred to in section 101(a)(13)(B) of title 10, United States Code.

“(15) COVERED SERVICEMEMBER.—The term ‘covered servicemember’ means a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or a Reserve, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in medical hold or medical holdover status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness.

“(16) MEDICAL HOLD OR MEDICAL HOLDOVER STATUS.—The term ‘medical hold or medical holdover status’ means—

“(A) the status of a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or a Reserve, assigned or attached to a military hospital for medical care; and

“(B) the status of a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces who is separated, whether pre-deployment or post-deployment, from the member’s unit while in need of health care based on a medical condition identified while the member is on active duty in the Armed Forces.

“(17) NEXT OF KIN.—The term ‘next of kin’, used with respect to an individual, means the nearest blood relative of that individual.

“(18) SERIOUS INJURY OR ILLNESS.—The term ‘serious injury or illness’, in the case of a member of the Armed Forces, means an injury or illness incurred by the member in line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces that may render the member medically unfit to perform the duties of the member’s office, grade, rank, or rating.”.

(2) ENTITLEMENT TO LEAVE.—Section 102(a) of such Act (29 U.S.C. 2612(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(3) SERVICEMEMBER FAMILY LEAVE.—Subject to section 103, an eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered servicemember shall be entitled to a total of 26 workweeks of leave during a 12-month period to care for the servicemember. The leave described in this paragraph shall only be available during a single 12-month period.

“(4) COMBINED LEAVE TOTAL.—During the single 12-month period described in paragraph (3), an eligible employee shall be entitled to a combined total of 26 workweeks of leave under paragraphs (1) and (3). Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to limit the availability of leave under paragraph (1) during any other 12-month period.”.

(3) REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO LEAVE.—

(A) SCHEDULE.—Section 102(b) of such Act (29 U.S.C. 2612(b)) is amended—

(i) in paragraph (1), in the second sentence—

(I) by striking “section 103(b)(5)” and inserting “subsection (b)(5) or (f) (as appropriate) of section 103”; and

(II) by inserting “or under subsection (a)(3)” after “subsection (a)(1)”; and

(ii) in paragraph (2), by inserting “or under subsection (a)(3)” after “subsection (a)(1)”.

(B) SUBSTITUTION OF PAID LEAVE.—Section 102(d) of such Act (29 U.S.C. 2612(d)) is amended—

(i) in paragraph (1)—

(I) by inserting “(or 26 workweeks in the case of leave provided under subsection (a)(3))” after “12 workweeks” the first place it appears; and

(II) by inserting “(or 26 workweeks, as appropriate)” after “12 workweeks” the second place it appears; and

(ii) in paragraph (2)(B), by adding at the end the following: “An eligible employee may elect, or an employer may require the employee, to substitute any of the accrued paid vacation leave, personal leave, family leave, or medical or sick leave of the employee for leave provided under subsection (a)(3) for any part of the 26-week period of such leave under such subsection.”.

(C) NOTICE.—Section 102(e)(2) of such Act (29 U.S.C. 2612(e)(2)) is amended by inserting “or under subsection (a)(3)” after “subsection (a)(1)”.

(D) SPOUSES EMPLOYED BY SAME EMPLOYER.—Section 102(f) of such Act (29 U.S.C. 2612(f)) is amended—

(i) by redesignating paragraphs (1) and (2) as subparagraphs (A) and (B), and aligning the margins of the subparagraphs with the margins of section 102(e)(2)(A);

(ii) by striking “In any” and inserting the following:

“(1) IN GENERAL.—In any”; and

(iii) by adding at the end the following:

“(2) SERVICEMEMBER FAMILY LEAVE.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—The aggregate number of workweeks of leave to which both that husband and wife may be entitled under subsection (a) may be limited to 26 workweeks during the single 12-month period described in subsection (a)(3) if the leave is—

“(i) leave under subsection (a)(3); or

“(ii) a combination of leave under subsection (a)(3) and leave described in paragraph (1).

“(B) BOTH LIMITATIONS APPLICABLE.—If the leave taken by the husband and wife includes leave described in paragraph (1), the limitation in paragraph (1) shall apply to the leave described in paragraph (1).”.

(4) CERTIFICATION.—Section 103 of such Act (29 U.S.C. 2613) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(f) Certification for Servicemember Family Leave.—An employer may require that a request for leave under section 102(a)(3) be supported by a certification issued at such time and in such manner as the Secretary may by regulation prescribe.”.

(5) FAILURE TO RETURN.—Section 104(c) of such Act (29 U.S.C. 2614(c)) is amended—

(A) in paragraph (2)(B)(i), by inserting “or under section 102(a)(3)” before the semicolon; and

(B) in paragraph (3)(A)—

(i) in clause (i), by striking “or” at the end;

(ii) in clause (ii), by striking the period and inserting “; or”; and

(iii) by adding at the end the following:

“(iii) a certification issued by the health care provider of the servicemember being cared for by the employee, in the case of an employee unable to return to work because of a condition specified in section 102(a)(3).”.

(6) ENFORCEMENT.—Section 107 of such Act (29 U.S.C. 2617) is amended, in subsection (a)(1)(A)(i)(II), by inserting “(or 26 weeks, in a case involving leave under section 102(a)(3))” after “12 weeks”.

(7) INSTRUCTIONAL EMPLOYEES.—Section 108 of such Act (29 U.S.C. 2618) is amended, in subsections (c)(1), (d)(2), and (d)(3), by inserting “or under section 102(a)(3)” after “section 102(a)(1)”.

(b) Servicemember family leave for civil service employees.—

(1) DEFINITIONS.—Section 6381 of title 5, United States Code, is amended—

(A) in paragraph (5), by striking “and” at the end;

(B) in paragraph (6), by striking the period and inserting “; and”; and

(C) by adding at the end the following:

“(7) the term ‘active duty’ means duty under a call or order to active duty under a provision of law referred to in section 101(a)(13)(B) of title 10, United States Code;

“(8) the term ‘covered servicemember’ means a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or a Reserve, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in medical hold or medical holdover status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness;

“(9) the term ‘medical hold or medical holdover status’ means—

“(A) the status of a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or a Reserve, assigned or attached to a military hospital for medical care; and

“(B) the status of a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces who is separated, whether pre-deployment or post-deployment, from the member’s unit while in need of health care based on a medical condition identified while the member is on active duty in the Armed Forces;

“(10) the term ‘next of kin’, used with respect to an individual, means the nearest blood relative of that individual; and

“(11) the term ‘serious injury or illness’, in the case of a member of the Armed Forces, means an injury or illness incurred by the member in line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces that may render the member medically unfit to perform the duties of the member’s office, grade, rank, or rating.”.

(2) ENTITLEMENT TO LEAVE.—Section 6382(a) of such title is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(3) Subject to section 6383, an employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered servicemember shall be entitled to a total of 26 administrative workweeks of leave during a 12-month period to care for the servicemember. The leave described in this paragraph shall only be available during a single 12-month period.

“(4) During the single 12-month period described in paragraph (3), an employee shall be entitled to a combined total of 26 administrative workweeks of leave under paragraphs (1) and (3). Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to limit the availability of leave under paragraph (1) during any other 12-month period.”.

(3) REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO LEAVE.—

(A) SCHEDULE.—Section 6382(b) of such title is amended—

(i) in paragraph (1), in the second sentence—

(I) by striking “section 6383(b)(5)” and inserting “subsection (b)(5) or (f) (as appropriate) of section 6383”; and

(II) by inserting “or under subsection (a)(3)” after “subsection (a)(1)”; and

(ii) in paragraph (2), by inserting “or under subsection (a)(3)” after “subsection (a)(1)”.

(B) SUBSTITUTION OF PAID LEAVE.—Section 6382(d) of such title is amended by adding at the end the following: “An employee may elect to substitute for leave under subsection (a)(3) any of the employee’s accrued or accumulated annual or sick leave under subchapter I for any part of the 26-week period of leave under such subsection.”.

(C) NOTICE.—Section 6382(e) of such title is amended by inserting “or under subsection (a)(3)” after “subsection (a)(1)”.

(4) CERTIFICATION.—Section 6383 of such title is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(f) An employing agency may require that a request for leave under section 6382(a)(3) be supported by a certification issued at such time and in such manner as the Office of Personnel Management may by regulation prescribe.”.