2007-03-30 / Community

Clinton: Improve Brain Injury Treatment

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton joined on Thursday with advocates for wounded soldiers and their families to announce a new legislative initiative, co-sponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), to improve the detection, assessment and treatment of traumatic brain injury and expand support systems for members and former members of the Armed Services with traumatic brain injury and their families. Senator Clinton also announced introduction of legislation to help ensure wounded soldiers receive the disability benefits they need and deserve and to further protect military family financial benefits. Senator Clinton was joined by Sergeant Ted Wade U.S Army 82nd Airborne Division, who incurred a severe traumatic brain injury and his wife Sarah Wade of Chapel Hill, NC; Lee Woodruff, TBI caregiver and co-author with husband Bob Woodruff of New York Times bestseller In An Instant ; Dr. Bert Vargas, a resident at New York University School of Medicine who served as an Air Force flight surgeon in Iraq and leadership from the Wounded Warrior Project, the Military Officers Association of America, the National Military Family Association, the Brain Injury Association of America and the American Academy of Neurology.

"If you serve your country your country must serve you. This is the promise our country must keep to the men and women who enlist, who fight and who return home often bearing the visible and invisible scars of sacrifice. We have a duty to reform and ready the military for the increasing number of veterans suffering from complex injuries like traumatic brain injury. Today we are taking steps needed to ensure our men and women in uniform and their families have the care and support they need and deserve," said Senator Clinton.

Clinton today introduced legislation to build on the groundbreaking "Heroes at Home" initiative she authored and secured in law last year aimed at helping U.S. troops and their families to transition after deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan and get the help they need with readjustment to work and coping with post-traumatic stress disorder and TBI. Today, Senator Clinton announced a new initiative to expand Heroes at Home by:

Improving the screening process for our troops before deployment to improve TBI diagnoses after deployment. Traumatic brain injury, which affects approximately one out of every 10 returning service members, has been identified as the "signature wound" affecting soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Multiple deployments and prevalent use of IEDs have put service members at increased risk of sustaining more than one mild or moderate TBI. However, mild and moderate TBI may go undetected, especially if a service member has sustained more obvious injuries. It also can be difficult to distinguish mild TBI from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder since both conditions have common symptoms, such as irritability, anxiety and depression.

Helping families struggling to take care of a loved one with training and certification for dealing with brain injuries and psychological injuries. Family members of returning soldiers with TBI are often ill-equipped to handle the demands of caring for their loved one, which in some bases can become a full-time responsibility.

Expanding Access to Needed Care. Servicemembers and veterans continue to face problems in accessing needed medical and mental health care, especially veterans or Guard and Reserve members who live in rural areas.

Senator Clinton's bill will help increase the reach of needed care for TBI by expanding use of telehealth and telemental health services.

"The proposals in this legislation were built on the recommendations of family caregivers now tending to the wounds of their loved ones who have incurred Traumatic Brain Injuries on our nation's behalf.

Senator Clinton and the Wounded Warrior Project have listened to these families and their requests for help and we applaud her for her leadership on this legislation. We stand committed to assisting the Senator in seeing this bill through to enactment," said John Melia, Executive Director of the Wounded Warrior Project.

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