Washington D.C.—Today, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on compensation for U.S. government civilians in combat zones, as well as medical care for federal civilian and U.S. government contract employees who are injured while deployed. Witnesses were from the Departments of Defense (DOD), the Department of Labor and the Government Accountability Office. Following the hearing, Chairman Vic Snyder (D-AR) and Ranking Member Todd Akin (R-MO) released joint comments regarding the hearing.
“Although we have heard reports of problems with medical care for DOD civilian employees, witnesses from the Departments of Defense and Labor tell us they have taken the appropriate steps to solve them,” said Snyder and Akin.
The Subcommittee will begin holding informal meetings with wounded federal employees and contractors to hear their perspectives about the care they receive in theater, and when they return to the U.S., for injuries sustained while deployed.
“Our goal is to ensure that the healthcare system available for these individuals is providing adequate medical treatment and that these important groups are not falling through the cracks. We are asking these civilians to face many of the same dangers as our troops face. They must be taken care of just as thoroughly,” continued Snyder and Akin.
The Subcommittee will also hold briefings on the different incentives and benefits offered by various U.S. government agencies to civilians who voluntarily deploy to theater. Existing incentives for DOD are widely believed to be sufficient, but there are questions as to whether there are adequate incentives and benefits for federal civilian employees from other agencies and that war service is professionally valued within each federal agency.
“The contributions of these agencies are just as critical to the future of our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan as those of DOD. Just as the entire military supports the war, the entire federal government needs to support reconstruction efforts. We must ensure that the best and brightest from these agencies are not being deterred by lack of incentive. We are disappointed that the Department of State chose not to attend today’s hearing, despite the fact that we have great concern with their ability to deploy civilians to theater,” Snyder and Akin concluded.