CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A deal that would allow soldiers the ability to file medical malpractice claims against the government was celebrated by lawmakers from both parties as a “historic moment” and a “landmark day for service members.”
If signed into law, the agreement will allow soldiers the right to receive uncapped compensation through the Department of Defense when medical care, by military health providers, goes wrong at home.
“Today will be remembered as a landmark day in the fight for justice for servicemembers and their families,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), who introduced a bill earlier this year named after North Carolina Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal, whose lung cancer, now stage 4 terminal, was misdiagnosed as pneumonia by doctors at Womack Army Medical Center in 2017.
Speier credits his “heroic advocacy” and ability to forge a bipartisan coalition. She expressed “serious concerns” that the agreement did not overturn the Feres Doctrine, which prevents soldiers from suing the government, and allows the Department of Defense to “run the entire claims process as they will write the rules, investigate malpractice incidents, and adjudicate claims.”
Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Concord) co-sponsored the original bill with Speier, the SFC. Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act, which was reworked and is now part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
“When I first met Rich and his family last year, I promised him I’d work hard to fix the injustice of the Feres Doctrine,” said Hudson, who urged lawmakers to vote it through. “This is a historic moment for Rich, his family and our men and women in uniform. It’s about fairness and what’s right and I applaud Rich for his courage and tireless work to get this done.”
Hudson calls the agreement “a good start.”
On Twitter Tuesday, Hudson credited FOX 46.
“Thank you for your hard work to cover this important moment in history for our men and women in uniform!,” Hudson said, referring to FOX 46’s yearlong series of investigations. “You’ve helped move the needle.”
The House is expected to vote on the NDAA on Wednesday. The Senate could vote as early as Thursday. If President Trump signs the NDAA, it would give troops, for the first time ever, the ability to seek legal recourse and compensation for medical malpractice.