The National Defense Authorization Act
In 2020, Donald J Trump signed the NDAA. This law features many provisions for the Armed Forces. It authorizes expenditures for equipment like aircraft and for programs that fight drug abuse in the military. One of the most interesting provisions in the NDAA of 2020 was related to military medical malpractice. Over $400 million was set aside to investigate and award monetary damages related to non-combat servicepeople.
This represents a big change from previous Department of Defense policy. Before this bill, there was a longtime policy preventing non-combat servicepeople from seeking damages due to medical malpractice. Even if medical personnel were negligent, these soldiers were never allowed to receive monetary damages. The NDAA of 2020 is a big deal, because it means hard-working servicemembers can finally be treated like anyone else who has a valid malpractice case.
Richard Stayskal’s Advocacy
Richard Stayskal was one of the big advocates for the law. A serviceman himself, Stayskal had lung cancer during his time in the military. Unfortunately, his condition was misdiagnosed as pneumonia. With cancer, time is of the essence. The news of Stayskal’s case was enough to convince Congress and the President to make changes to military medical malpractice law. Previously, a Supreme Court decision from 1950 had set the tone for policy in this area.