FEMA's first responders to Hurricane Sandy deserve federal health care benefits
  • Petitioned President Obama

This petition was delivered to:

President Obama
White House Chief of Staff
Jack Lew
Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
W. Craig Fugate
Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
Janet Napolitano
FEMA
Director, United States Office of Personnel Management
John Berry

FEMA's first responders to Hurricane Sandy deserve federal health care benefits

    1. Dena Patrick
    2. Petition by

      Dena Patrick

      Apex, NC

  1.  
  2.   
November 2012

Victory

Just weeks after over 112,000 people signed Dena Patrick's Change.org petition, FEMA and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) have announced that FEMA reservists responding to disasters like Hurricane Sandy will be provided with health care benefits. Dena said, "I'm thrilled the Office of Personnel Management and FEMA gave this the attention it deserves. My sincere thanks to Change.org for the tools and support, and to the 113,000+ petitioners who helped raise awareness of this issue. I hope FEMA Reservists now realize how much fellow citizens value their work and their sacrifice; the hundreds of comments sing their praises."

Once again, in the aftermath of yet another natural disaster -- Hurricane Sandy -- we see the sacrifice of first-line FEMA employees and how much we as a nation depend upon their expertise and commitment. Did you know that many of the brave FEMA first responders, who drop everything to help those in need, don’t even have insurance to care for themselves?

Thousands of our fellow citizens are on call year round, deployed at a moment's notice by FEMA to emergency and disaster areas.  This now includes communities most affected by Hurricane Sandy. It is a high-stress job on many levels. FEMA itself notes that the lives of these employees (referred to as Disaster Assistance Employees, DAEs, or reservists) “can be exhausting, frustrating, challenging” and “the hours can be long and the conditions are sometimes difficult.”

I was shocked to learn that one of my good friends, who has worked as a FEMA reservist since 2003 and typically works over 300 days a year, receives no health benefits even as she sacrifices for the health of others. Many of these employees are afraid to speak out publicly for fear of losing their jobs, which they love. That’s why I am standing up for these courageous and selfless individuals, and call on FEMA and the Obama Administration to provide them with federal health benefits.

It’s worked before. I was inspired to create this petition by John Lauer, a wildland firefighter whose Change.org petition successfully pushed the Administration to provide healthcare benefits  to firefighters like him who have similar employment circumstances.

It's time our FEMA workers and other first responders are prioritized when it comes to compensation and benefits. It's time we as a citizenry demand that our priorities are better reflected in the workforce and legislative decisions. Will you join me in calling for FEMA first responders to be provided with healthcare benefits? Please share this with your networks. We're using the Twitter hashtag #inthistogether for this effort.  Thank you!

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Significant Progress!

      Dena Patrick
      Petition Organizer

      Sharing significant progress in our request (victory is within sight!), with tremendous gratitude to everyone who has signed and shared this petition!

      Excerpt: "Part-time emergency employees deployed to assist in Superstorm Sandy relief efforts have won federal health benefits, the Office of Personnel Management announced Friday.

      The Office of Personnel Management is issuing an interim final rule, obtained by Government Executive, to expand the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to part-time workers with FEMA, known as reservists. The rule takes effect immediately.

      The announcement comes after an online petition requesting the benefits received nearly 100,000 signatures in the 10 days since it was launched. "

      http://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/2012/11/part-time-fema-workers-now-eligible-health-care-benefits/59421/?oref=dropdown

      Part-time FEMA workers now eligible for health care benefits

      Part-time emergency employees deployed to assist in Superstorm Sandy relief efforts have won federal health benefits, the Office of Personnel Management announced Friday. The Office of Personnel Management is issuing an interim final rule, obtained by Government Executive, to expand the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to part-time workers with FEMA, known as reservists.

    2. Reached 110,000 signatures
    3. MEDIA UPDATE: Article in The Washington Post!

      Dena Patrick
      Petition Organizer

      Thanks to all of you supporting and sharing this petition, we're also getting media attention. Here's the first of several to share. Thanks for your help!

      FEMA has 9,106 disaster assistance employees. Only 770 get federal health insurance.

      The disaster assistance employee started her year in the Northeast, living in a hotel room while helping communities there recover from flooding from Hurricane Irene. She then moved south, to work on Hurricane Ike damage, and plans to drive her car up north soon, to assist with Hurricane Sandy.

    4. Reached 9,000 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Kathleen Leary PIKESVILLE, MD
      • over 1 year ago

      Where would this country be without its first responders?

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Angela Lawler BOWLING GREEN, KY
      • over 1 year ago

      If they get the same insurance as the veterans then they will not be receiving very good insurance. They are cutting our benefits. Go look at Help Military families. They are giving us the short end of the stick. I hope they do not the FEMA workers.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • James Stanford HOMESTEAD, FL
      • almost 2 years ago

      Fair is fair. Congress is PART-TIME and they get more than their fair share of benefits

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
      • almost 2 years ago

      People that are depended upon to help those in need they and there families shouldn't have to worry about there on well being.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Saul Monago SALT LAKE CITY, UT
      • almost 2 years ago

      Give these people health benefits.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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