H.R. 1478: The Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act
Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez, who was a decorated Marine and platoon leader in Iraq, died of skin cancer last year after a series of extraordinary mistakes and misdiagnoses made by military medical personnel. The cancer spread throughout Rodriguez's body and weakened him to the point that he went from being an athletic 190 pound man to weighing less than 80 pounds. Carmelo left behind a loving family, including a seven year old son. His family, however, has no recourse for this tragedy. A 1950 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, known as the Feres Doctrine, denies servicemen and women the ability to seek damages from the federal government for medical malpractice. Unfortunately, the Rodriguez family is not alone.
H.R. 1478, which New York Congressman Maurice Hinchey authored, holds the military accountable for its responsibility to military personnel and if enacted, will encourage the steps needed to improve military care so that more families do not experience what the Rodriguez family has endured.
It is imperative that the United States Congress put our military personnel on equal footing with all Americans. Joining the military should not mean that one has to give up his or her right to hold medical providers accountable.
What can you do to help?
1) Go to http://www.house.gov/
2) Type in your zip code to find your member of Congress
3) Call your member's Washington D.C. office and confidently share the following message:
Or, if you already know the name of your member of Congress, call the House of Representatives' switchboard and ask to be patched through to that office: (202) 224-3121.
"Hi, my name is (your name), and I am a constituent of (your member of Congress). I have a message that I would like you to share with the Congressperson and the legislative assistant handling defense or judiciary issues.
"I ask that (he/she) co-sponsor H.R. 1478, The Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act. Our servicemen and women already make tremendous personal sacrifices by serving in our military; giving up the right to hold their medical providers accountable for negligent care should not be one of them. I respectfully request a written response and can be reached at (address, phone number). Thank you."--submitted by Barb Cragnotti