President Obama just signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2017, which contained my billto ensure National Guard members retain health coverage when responding to state emergencies, such as landslides or earthquakes.
After the tragic Oso landslide in 2014, my office was contacted by members of our state’s National Guard who were aiding in search-and-rescue and decontamination efforts. They told me their families would lose health insurance if they decided to stay on the ground to keep helping the community, based on the unique status they serve under.
One servicemember named Shawn described a “lose, lose situation,” where some Guardsmen were being forced to choose between participating in relief efforts and losing their families’ health benefits — or protecting their own family while leaving the Oso recovery teams without the skills and training needed on-the-ground. Another Guard member named Steven had to make a particularly heartbreaking decision because his wife was scheduled to have major surgery, and she would have lost health coverage if he chose to stay in Oso.
I was there and can tell you firsthand how vital the National Guard was to helping first responders and an ailing community.
National Guard members should never be forced to choose between helping our communities and caring for their own families. And thanks to my bill, these tough choices won’t have to be made again.
The inclusion of this bill in the NDAA ensures all our brave men and women are covered when they respond to state emergencies. I’m glad we earned such broad, bipartisan support, and I thank President Obama for signing this important reform into law.
As always, my office is here to serve you. If you have questions or comments about the topics that matter most to you, I encourage you to contact me through my website. You may also keep up-to-date on what I’m doing by following me on social media. If you need assistance dealing with a federal agency, such as the Social Security Administration, IRS or the VA, please do not hesitate to contact my Bothell office at (425) 485-0085.