It’s a day military families have been waiting decades for, the day they know that telling their stories has an impact.
Lawmakers decided to reform the Feres Doctrine as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the military budget that just passed, allowing active-duty service members to be compensated for malpractice at medical military facilities.
The Feres Doctrine has been preventing active-duty service members from being able to sue the government for medical malpractice for about 70 years. This year, one man’s tragedy made a difference, convincing lawmakers to make the change.
“[I’m] still trying to kind of take it in, it’s a little surreal,” SFC Richard Stayskal said, reacting to the news. “I’m trying not to get too excited, because it’s got to go through the House and Senate. I’m excited inside, but waiting to really celebrate once it’s all over.”
The agreement in the defense spending bill would allow families like the Stayskals to get some sort of compensation in a tragic situation. Once signed into law, the defense secretary can approve, settle and pay a claim to a service member who was hurt or killed as a result of medical malpractice. Stayskal told WUSA9 this wasn’t just about his story, but his brothers and sisters in arms.