Protecting Servicemembers Injured By Medical Negligence

It must be a national priority to take care of the men and women who serve in the military. Those who serve our country, more than anyone, have deserved the care and respect of a grateful nation.

A bill currently in Congress seeks to right a wrong that has hurt countless servicemembers. As the law stands today, active duty servicemembers injured by medical negligence have no legal recourse, due to a 1950 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Referred to as the Feres doctrine, active duty military cannot hold the government accountable for non-combat related injuries.

This has devastating consequences. A story in Sunday's Virginian-Pilot told the story of Cindy Wilson, a 37-year-old technical sergeant stationed at Langley Air Force Base, who was pregnant with her first child. According to her medical records, a uterine artery was cut during delivery, causing massive internal bleeding. When doctors tried to repair it, two surgical sponges were left inside her abdomen. She died 12 hours after giving birth.

The Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act, sponsored by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), will restore the protections of the civil justice system to the men and women of our armed forces. The legislation is named after Marine Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez, who served his country for nearly a decade, including a tour of duty in Iraq. A blotch on his buttock went untreated and misdiagnosed multiple times by military doctors until years later, when Rodriguez learned it was a melanoma. By then, it was too late, and he died from skin cancer holding the hand of his seven-year-old son. The CBS Evening News piece below details his story.

The House Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee today approved this bill (H.R. 1478), and it will now head to the full House Judiciary Committee. Considering the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make to protect our country, we at least owe them the same rights the rest of us enjoy.