WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on a study linking brain injury and PTSD among servicemembers returning from Iraq. The study, conducted by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, was published in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The report is available on the web at http://content.nejm.org/cgi/reprint/NEJMoa072972v1.pdf
"While science and medicine continue to make great strides, we are only beginning to understand the effects of brain injury and the mental trauma of combat, and the way in which these impacts of combat are linked. This study found that mild traumatic brain injury leaves servicemembers over two-and-a half times more likely to suffer PTSD than servicemembers with other injuries. What we know for sure is that when these men and women return from combat with PTSD and brain injury, there is a profound obligation to address the consequences of their invisible wounds," said Senator Akaka. "We will know more about VA's efforts to screen for mild traumatic brain injury when the Government Accountability Office publishes a report on the matter next week."
"The Wounded Warrior legislation recently enacted into law will help to improve care for returning servicemembers, including those with TBI and PTSD. There is also other important veterans' mental health legislation that is still pending in Congress," said Senator Akaka, referring to S. 2162, the Mental Health Improvements Act of 2007, which was approved by the Veterans' Affairs Committee and is expected to be brought before the full Senate shortly.
S. 2162 would address various aspects of veterans' mental health, including care for family members, substance abuse and mental health, as well as PTSD. The bill was inspired by first-hand accounts from veterans and their families during a Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing Senator Akaka held on April 25, 2007.
January 30, 2008