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(Washington, DC) On Thursday the top Democrat and top Republican on the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs joined forces to introduce new legislation which will help veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries.
The Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 2007 (S. 1233), introduced by Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho), would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide every veteran who has an inpatient stay for a TBI with an individual plan for rehabilitation and reintegration. It would also require the establishment a research, clinical care, and education program for TBI.
The legislation also would require that VA officials send a veteran to a private care if VA cannot provide it, and it calls for the creation of a pilot program for assisted living for veterans with severe traumatic brain injuries.
"Traumatic brain injury has been called the signature wound of the war in Iraq," said Craig, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "I think this bill will move VA further in the direction they are heading and provide veterans with traumatic brain injuries an opportunity to achieve a full and productive life."
A recent report by the General Accountability Office states that about a third of the servicemembers injured in blast situations suffer from some degree of traumatic brain injury.
The VA has four hospitals to treat severe brain injuries, in Minneapolis, California, Florida and Virginia.
"Hundreds and perhaps even thousands of our dedicated servicemen and women are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with mild, moderate, and even severe head trauma. The long-term consequences of these injuries are, in many ways, unknown to us. That is why this legislation is so important," Craig said.
"Critics have said that the VA doesn't have enough beds to treat those coming in with TBI. Sen. Akaka and I want the best care possible regardless of whether it is obtained through a door with the letters V-A over them or through a door with a different name."