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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cuts to Vet Brain Trauma Funding Planned

The issue of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) care for our returning veterans has virtually ignited the past couple of days. First came the opening installment of a TBI series over at Gen. Wes Clark's Community blog yesterday morning. In the afternoon, I added a TBI article to the mix to generate interest in the series.

Late last night, USA Today blew the issue wide open by posting a stunning article on its website. They reported that the House and Senate Appropriation Committees were poised to slash by half TBI funding used for research and treatment of war-related brain injuries in its 2007 Defense appropriation bill.

Traumatic brain injury is the signature wound of our nation's current wars. As of January 2006, 20% of those injured in Iraq had TBI. Cutting funding when it's most needed is reckless and immoral. My full analysis posted at ePluribus Media.

In educational interest, article(s) quoted from extensively.

Today's reaction to proposed cutbacks from Veterans for America:

August 9, 2006 (202) 628-7772

House and Senate Would Cut Defense Appropriations Funding for
Traumatic Brain Injury Research and Treatment by 1/2

Statement by Jonathan Powers, Associate Director of Veterans for America,
And Bobby Muller, Chairman of Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation

Jonathan Powers, associate director of Veterans for America, and former Army Captain who served in Iraq, said:

“Cutting funding for traumatic brain injury is a moral outrage, and that’s the bottom line. As an Iraq War veteran, I believe there is no greater decision our country can make than to decide to go to war, so there should be an equally high priority for Congress and the American people to provide medical care for our soldiers both on the battlefield and when they return home.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a signature wound of the Iraq War, and given the 10 percent of soldiers already suffering from TBI, it is on the path to becoming one of the most frequent injuries suffered by our troops in Iraq. Our men and women who bravely serve in the U.S. armed forces are our Nation’s number one most important military asset, yet Congress cannot find $19 million dollars in a defense appropriations bill that is likely to cost upwards of $370 billion?

How can members of Congress claim to be ‘supporting the troops’ while at the same time cut funding for one of the signature wounds of this war? When thousands struggle at this hour with a traumatic brain injury; when an estimated 150,000 will suffer a brain injury in this war, Congress should be increasing support, not decreasing it. America supports our troops – the priorities of this Congress are wrong.”

Bobby Muller, Chairman of Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation said:

“I am shocked and appalled to learn that Congress is not making the health of our soldiers fighting in Iraq a priority. The Iraq War is escalating, casualties are rising, yet Congress is on recess while their staff plans to slash desperately needed Traumatic Brain Injury research and treatment for our Nation’s men and women fighting on the front lines.

Since September 11th, 2001, 1.5 million service members have been deployed overseas to the Global War on Terror (GWOT). More than 3,000 have died. 50,000 have been wounded, injured or become sick with a physical or mental condition. The VA has reported that as of May, 2006, nearly 168,500 GWOT veterans have been treated, and the Veterans Brain Injury Center estimates that up to 150,000 veterans may suffer TBI from war. This budget cut is a serious moral outrage, and I call on Congress to explain to these 1.5 million men and women why the brain injuries they suffer in war are not a top concern for our country. This is the time for Congress to do the right thing and implement a comprehensive plan that addresses the needs of our veterans.”

# # #

Veterans for America, a new organization co-founded by the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation and The Justice Project, is bringing together generations of veterans committed to advancing advocacy, education and humanitarian efforts around the causes, conduct and consequences of war. VFA is dedicated to addressing the needs of our veterans, service members and their families and their larger concerns about the impact of war.

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