House Votes to Include Pascrell TBI Amendment in FY 2014 Defense Reauthorization Bill
By Mel Fabrikant Monday, December 16, 2013, 03:54 PM EST
Legislation provides critical improvements in detecting and treating soldiers who sustain traumatic brain injury
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives voted to include an amendment authored by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) to the 2014 National Defense Authorization bill aimed at helping U.S service members who have sustained traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
“We have made a promise to our men and women in uniform that we would take care of them when they returned from the battlefield,” said Pascrell, co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force. "Although the Department of Defense has taken important steps toward identifying and treating those men and women who have suffered traumatic brain injuries while serving our nation, there are still problems with screening and treating our troops. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, I will not stop fighting to ensure that both our military and civilian populations suffering from brain injuries get the testing and treatment they need."
Since June 2010, the Defense Department has been checking any soldier within 50 meters of a blast for traumatic brain injury. Prior to then, the DOD did not have a sufficient screening process. Pre-deployment, a soldier took a computerized assessment. But post-deployment, they received a paper questionnaire. Therefore, many service members avoided reporting symptoms on their questionnaire. We know many service members may have sustained undiagnosed TBIs.
Rep. Pascrell's amendment requires the Defense Department to issue a report on how they are identifying, referring, and treating service members who may have a TBI and who have slipped through the cracks prior to the June 2010 policy.
Approximately 1.7 million Americans experience TBI each year and an estimated 5.3 million Americans are living with long-term, severe disabilities as a result of brain injury. Another 176,000 men and women have sustained a TBI in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Founded by Rep. Pascrell in 2001, the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force’s mission is to further provide education and awareness of brain injury (incidence, prevalence, prevention and treatment) and support funding for basic and applied research on brain injury rehabilitation and development of a cure. The Task Force is bipartisan and made up of over one hundred members of Congress.