Obama steps up for wounded troops

News & Politics

In the wake of the scandal surrounding the conditions endured by some Veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) introduced two pieces of legislation last week to create a more suitable level of care for wounded troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama introduced, S. 713, the Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act, legislation written to "ensure dignity in care for members of the Armed Forces recovering from injuries," which has been referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee for review.

"Last week, the Nation learned of the serious problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center including decaying, cockroach-infested facilities and an overwhelmed patient-care bureaucracy," said Obama in introducing his bill last week. "As described in a series of articles in the Washington Post by Dana Priest and Anne Hull, wounded soldiers are returning home from the battle in Iraq only to face a new battle to get the care and benefits they have earned."

The Democratic presidential candidate's legislation is already cosponsored by 23 Senators, with only three of those -- Kit Bond (R-MO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) -- coming from the Republican side of the aisle.

Obama's legislation would fix conditions at outpatient VA residence facilities by setting higher standards -- such as stipulations that recovering soldiers' rooms will be as good or better as the best standard rooms for active-duty troops -- and increasing administration accountability. The bill also provides for expedited repair of maintenance problems in the facilities and, as Obama put it last week, "zero tolerance for pest infestations."

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