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House Advances Bills Protecting VA Medical Malpractice Victims, Update to VA Motto

Twelve bills were introduced on Thursday, July 30th 2020 by lawmakers in the house of representatives, some included provisions offering protections for victims of VA medical malpractice, others had measures for an update to the official motto of the VA.

The fight for inclusion in VA coverage for various groups has been a long and arduous battle for many. The fight has now been brought to the official motto of the VA which reads “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan,” taken from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address in 1865.

Lawmakers are now arguing that although the original spirit of Lincoln’s words were inclusive, it is now time for the motto to be updated to reflect a more diverse veteran population. More that 10% of veterans are women, and more than 17% of the current armed forces are women as well. In efforts to represent this new diverse reality the lawmakers suggested an alternative which reads “To care for those who shall have borne the battle, and for their families, caregivers and survivors.”

The measure, known as the Honoring All Veterans Act, was introduced by Representative Jackie Speier and garnered bipartisan support in Congress. The bill passed unanimously in the House.

Representative Kathleen Rice, who has fought for the change for years, voiced her support stating that the “VA’s current gender-exclusive motto doesn’t properly acknowledge (women’s) service, and that is simply wrong. We’re just as grateful for their service and sacrifice as we are for anyone brave enough to put on our country’s uniform. That is why we must pass (the bill), to ensure that these veterans receive the respect they deserve.”

In addition, the Honoring All Veterans Act, the House also advanced legislation that would provide more protection for veterans who’ve become victims of medical malpractice.

Bill Tally, Marine veteran has been fighting to close a more than seven-decade loophole and to protect millions of veterans affected by VA malpractice. Tally was irreparably injured by near-fatal medical malpractice by the VA and has fought to insure that this doesn’t happen to anybody else.

The Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act was introduced by Representative Mike Levin, and would allow any veteran or family who has filed a claim against VA, for injury or death to be entitled to receive a notice from the VA about legal counsel, the employment status of anyone involved, and the statute of limitations for the claim. This information must be provided within 30 days.

The bill is a huge victory for Tally, who has been working at this for years. “Tears are flowing, my heart is racing, I’m shaking and I’m recounting the last 4.5 years,” Tally said after the vote Thursday. “Still at a loss of words. We did it.” 

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