McMorris Rodgers Introduces Bill Empowering Disability Community To Serve Their Country

Sep 29, 2022
Press
Veterans

Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today introduced the Hannah Cvancara Service Act to empower individuals with a non-service-connected amputation to serve the United States Armed Forces as medical personnel.

This legislation was inspired by Hannah Cvancara, a Spokane resident who suffered a childhood amputation that has disqualified her from serving as a nurse in the United States Navy. The Hannah Cvancara Service Act would specifically prevent the Department of Defense from prohibiting an individual – who is otherwise qualified – from serving.

“Hannah is one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met. She is a fierce veterans and disabilities advocate, a successful graduate nurse, and a former collegiate athlete. Above all, she is living proof that no one is defined by their circumstances,” said Rodgers. “Hannah has overcome every obstacle in pursuit of her dream – following in her father’s footsteps and serving in the United States Navy. We are blessed to live in a country with people like Hannah willing to put service before self, which is why I will do whatever it takes to knock down this final barrier standing in her way.”

Cathy first met Hannah when she was selected as Miss Spokane in 2013, where she chose to make her pageant platform, “Honoring Their Sacrifice: Recognizing and Supporting our Disabled Veterans.” In high school and college, Hannah participated in activities like volleyball, swim team, ballet, high jump, and more. At Eastern Washington University, she successfully completed the Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge and graduated with her nursing degree in 2019. Since graduation, she has worked continuously as an orthopedic nurse, serving patients in need or trauma, post-anesthesia, and critical care. 

“Military service is a duty and an honor I’ve held dear since I was a little girl. Born and raised as a military dependent, I knew I wanted to serve myself and was capable of achieving that dream as an amputee. Like so many in the disability community, I have had to spend much of my life advocating for myself and trying to prove my abilities,” said Cvancara. “But thanks to Cathy, it finally feels like I have a partner in this fight. Her support through the years, and her introduction of this legislation, gives me hope that we can make a long-overdue change for both the military and disabled community. The chance to serve in our armed forces should not be withheld from amputees and other physically disabled people who can pass the military’s standard fitness tests. I’m very thankful for the chance to create a lasting change that strengthens both the military and disabled community alike.”

In November 2021, Cathy asked the Secretary of the Navy to give Hannah’s medical exemption request full and fair consideration. Additionally, in January 2022, she urged the Secretary of Defense to update the code preventing Hannah from serving her country. In response to the Navy and Department of Defense’s inaction, Cathy introduced the Hannah Cvancara Service Act to finally change this policy and make it easier for those who want to serve their country to do so.

CLICK HERE to read the bill.

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