Senate vote caps a 10 month 8 On Your Side campaign for rights denied to military members

Military

TAMPA (WFLA) — Army Green Beret Sgt. Rich Stayskal doesn’t back away from a battle.

Now, because of his unwillingness to give in, he along with every other member of the military stand at the door of victory.

The U.S. Senate passed a massive $378 billion dollar defense spending bill on Tuesday, which includes giving active duty military members the right to sue government doctors for malpractice.  

“It’s just a great day, you know, we”ve been fighting so long and so hard for this,” Sgt. Stayskal said.

Since February, 8 On Your Side helped get Rich’s story out.  

Seventy years ago the Supreme Court ruled active duty military cannot sue the government for negligence.  

Because Army doctors failed to inform Rich Stayskal of a spot on his lung, Rich didn’t learn that he had cancer until an emergency trip to a civilian hospital.

Because of the 1950’s Supreme Court ruling, known as the Feres Doctrine, Rich was unable to hold anyone accountable for mistakes by military doctors.

By joining the U.S. House in passing the Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019, the Senate gave the green light to active duty military to sue for medical malpractice.

“It definitely brings peace of mind to myself, and I know it does to my family as well,”  Sgt. Stayskal added.

If the President signs this bill, every member of the military will have a right denied to them for 70 years.

“This was a really big, big, big step for our military and their families,” Stayskal attorney Natalie Khawam explained.  “You know a lot of them suffered, and suffered in silence, and they have a right to be heard.”

For Rich Stayskal, this wasn’t just about providing for his wife and two young daughters, it was a battle for for his entire military family.

“I just want them to know I was thinking about them, every step of the way and you know I couldn’t have been more proud in dedicating my time to do this for them,” Sgt. Stayskal added.

“I’ve got to say this Steve, the reason why we’re here and victorious today is because you were such an amazing journalist,” attorney Khawam said. “You were very steadfast, you committed yourself to this cause, you did so many pieces on this and not only did you bring awareness to the state of Florida, but across the country.”

If you know of something that you think should be investigated, call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1-800-338-0808.

Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.

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