Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) (L) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced a new legislative proposal this afternoon aimed at preventing the kinds of inadequate medical care exposed in the recent Walter Reed scandal.
The Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act of 2007 (S.713) has already garned the support of 22 co-sponsors, including three Republicans--Chris Bond (MO), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Olympia Snowe (ME).
As Sen. Obama described the intent of the legislation:
Our bill would fix deplorable conditions at outpatient residence facilities by setting high standards and increasing accountability. Under this bipartisan measure, the standards will be clear. First, recovering soldiers' rooms will be as good or better as the best standard rooms for active-duty troops. Second, our injured heroes will not have to wait more than two weeks for maintenance problems to be repaired. Third, we will have zero tolerance for pest infestations. And finally, emergency medical personnel and crisis counselors will be available to recovering troops 24 hours a day.
In a tip of the hat to Dana Priest and Anne Hull, McCaskill cited their two-part series as the inspiration behind the move to reform.
It is not often that you read something in the paper that makes you sick, but this is precisely the feeling I had just over a week ago as I read a Washington Post article that spoke of awful living conditions and an interminable bureaucracy being experienced by our war wounded who are receiving outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Specifically, the proposed Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act would:
— Reduce the paperwork that veterans must complete to receive disability benefits.
— Increase the number of caseworkers for recovering soldiers.
— Step up caseworkers' training.
— Require more frequent inspections of military hospitals.
— Establish timelines for repairs to hospitals.
— Improve access to psychological counseling.
After introduction, the bill was referred to the Armed Services Committee for further debate.
Complete text of the proposed legislation can be found here: woundedwarriors.pdf.