Tuesday, July 28, 2009



Feingold Amendments to Defense Authorization Bill, Passed By the Senate, Help Service Members During Their Transition to Civilian Life and Ensure Forces are Prepared to Help Communities in the Event of a Catastrophe

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wounded Warrior Transition Assistance Act,

Washington, D.C. – Late last week, the U.S. Senate passed a Defense authorization bill that included two amendments authored by Senator Russ Feingold to help troops transitioning to civilian life and to ensure forces here at home are better prepared to respond to emergencies. Feingold’s first amendment, offered along with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and based on their bipartisan Wounded Warrior Transition Assistance Act, will help ensure wounded service members of the Guard and Reserves are not discharged before their injuries are treated and evaluated. Many wounded service members have been discharged prematurely and this has compromised their recovery and imposed additional hardships upon them and their families. The legislation was introduced after a young soldier from Wisconsin came to Feingold in need of assistance after being discharged before his injuries were evaluated.

“I am pleased the Senate recognized the need to help our brave men and women in uniform transition back to civilian life,” Feingold said. “Hearing the story of a young soldier from Wisconsin who fell through the cracks after serving his country was both heart-breaking and infuriating. Allowing the men and women who selflessly serve our country to be left behind is unacceptable. With passage of this amendment, we can help ensure our service members are not faced with financial hardships that can compound the already difficult transition back to their lives at home.”

Feingold and Murkowski’s legislation has broad support among military and veteran service organizations and is endorsed by Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America, the National Guard Association of the United States, and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. The cost of the legislation is fully offset so as not to increase the federal deficit.

The defense bill also included an amendment by Feingold to help ensure communities across the nation are protected in the event of a catastrophe. Feingold’s amendment seeks to ensure the Department of Defense adequately funds forces needed to deal with the consequences of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive event. Last year, the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves concluded that Department of Defense’s (DOD) failure to establish these forces in the wake of 9/11 had left an "appalling gap" in our defenses. DOD is working on establishing the needed forces but has historically failed to provide needed personnel and adequate funding. Feingold’s amendment would increase transparency over defense spending to help Congress ensure these vital units receive the resources they need.

“The Department of Defense must no longer drag its feet in committing resources to these forces, which would be absolutely critical in the event of a catastrophic incident,” Feingold said. “This amendment creates the transparency in the defense budget necessary to ensure these forces are funded and able to respond to emergencies.”

Feingold has consistently worked to ensure domestic readiness for a terrorist attack. Feingold is the author of a law requiring each state and U.S. territory be equipped with at least one WMD-Civil Support Team, National Guard units that would provide the initial response to a chemical, biological or nuclear disaster. These teams are now up and running in every state in the union.

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