OLYMPIA – New state employees who are uniformed service members, veterans, and their spouses now have access to a newly created shared leave pool thanks to a law signed by Governor Inslee on Thursday. The “Wounded Warrior Shared Leave Act,” sponsored by Federal Way State Representative Kristine Reeves, passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.
When a new state employee starts their service, there is a standard six-month probationary period where no paid leave accrues. For service members transitioning out of military service who might have a Veteran’s Affairs or doctor’s appointment, lack of paid leave means they’ll take unpaid leave. The “Wounded Warrior Shared Leave Act” (HB 1802) allows service members, veterans, and their spouses to access a shared leave pool immediately upon employment with the state.
“Many times, military service results in injuries, and those issues are not always resolved before someone leaves military service and becomes a veteran. It takes time to get treatment,” said Governor Inslee. “Washington must be a veteran-ready employer and this is one way to support our men and women who have served.”
Along with HB 1802, the Governor signed SB 5849, a Republican-sponsored bill that helps remove barriers to care needed by service members and veterans that cuts back on red tape and government bureaucracy, while requiring more accountability that veterans receive services they’ve earned.
The legislation stalled in the House until Reeves introduced an amendment that ensured stronger accountability and broader collaboration between public and private sector partners, helping to reduce duplication of efforts to assist veterans and their families. The Reeves amendment garnered the necessary bipartisan support to pass the House.
“As the sister and granddaughter of service members, it’s clear to me we must be doing everything we can to help our loved ones transition to civilian life. Our military service members shouldn’t have to choose between a doctor’s appointment or a paycheck,” said Reeves. “We’re doing what is right by our service members by removing barriers to care and improving the process that gets veterans earned services.”