Families of Wounded Vets to Get More Relief

Congress and the Obama administration take steps to help returning veterans.

Just in time for Veterans Day, Congress has made it easier for families of returning soldiers to care for them.

The help comes in the form of a significant expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act. The military caregiver provisions of the FMLA already allow relatives to take 26 weeks of leave -- instead of the usual 12 weeks -- to care for a member of the military, National Guard or Reserve who is recovering from a serious injury or illness that was incurred in the line of duty. Now the right to take extended leave will be available for up to five years after a veteran leaves the service if he or she develops a service related injury or illness. This expansion, which was contained in the 2010 defense authorization bill signed by President Obama on Oct. 28, was deemed necessary because some problems, such as traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder, may not manifest themselves until after a service member has left the military. The provision will not be effective until the secretary of labor issues guidance.

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Martha Lynn Craver
Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter