or Login to see your representatives.

Access Candidates' and Representatives' Biographies, Voting Records, Interest Group Ratings, Issue Positions, Public Statements, and Campaign Finances

Simply enter your zip code above to get to all of your candidates and representatives, or enter a name. Then, just click on the person you are interested in, and you can navigate to the categories of information we track for them.

Public Statements

Letter to The Honorable S. Ward Casscells, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Today, U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL), John Kerry (D-MA), Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) sent the following letter to the Assistant Defense Secretary for Health Affairs, Dr. S. Ward Casscells, calling on him to provide comprehensive information on eye injuries sustained by service members in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors, 48 cases of blinded service members have been reported, while other estimates show that the total number of vision-related complications exceeds 1,000 - especially when vision impairment resulting from Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) is considered. However, based on current available information, there is a lack of comprehensive eye injury data as well as questions about the accuracy of these numbers. In continuing efforts to provide the best available care for our wounded warriors, it is imperative that we have an accurate system of accounting for these eye injuries so there can be sufficient planning and treatment.

In the letter, the senators ask the Pentagon to provide the total number of eye injuries sustained in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan; an estimate of the total number of eye injuries sustained that did not result in a medical evacuation; the number of cases of TBIs that also contained a diagnosis of a vision impairment; the number of eye injuries that required surgery in military medical facilities; and the number of blinded service members referred for either outpatient or inpatient Department of Veterans Affairs Blind Rehabilitative Services or private agency rehabilitation.

"The very least we owe our men and women in uniform is the best health care we can provide," said Senator Obama. "Whether these heroes are suffering from eye injuries or traumatic brain injuries that can lead to vision impairment, we have a commitment to provide them with the highest quality medical care both in combat and once they return home. The fact is, the story of eye injuries in this war has gone largely untold. To fully care for our veterans, we need to have a comprehensive understanding of the number of veterans affected, and I hope we receive this information from the Pentagon in a timely and efficient way."

"The best military medicine in the world is saving lives on the battlefield, but an antiquated health care system is failing our soldiers when they come home with complex eye and brain injuries, which are the hallmark wounds of this war," said Senator Kerry. "Perfecting the science to treat these wounds means nothing without the planning and resources to get care to our soldiers at home. The military and veterans healthcare system must be capable of diagnosing, treating and providing rehabilitative services for those that need it most."

"It is important that we fully understand the extent to which eye injuries are being experienced by our men and women in uniform. Only then can we ensure that we are providing the necessary resources to help address the needs of our veterans," said Senator Pete Domenici.

The text of the letter is below:

The Honorable S. Ward Casscells, M.D.
Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs
1200 Defense Pentagon
Washington DC 20301-1200

Dear Dr. Casscells:

We write to request information regarding the prevalence of eye injuries sustained by U.S. military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors, 48 cases of blinded service members have been reported. The Veterans Benefits Administration is currently providing service connection disability for 230 OIF and OEF veterans who have been discharged with some vision injuries. And still other estimates show that the number of vision-related complications exceeds 1,000 - - especially when the vision impairment resulting from Traumatic Brain Injuries is taken into account. Based on the information available to us, we have concerns about not only the lack of comprehensive data with respect to eye injuries, but the accuracy of these numbers.

In our continuing efforts to provide the best available care for our wounded warriors, it is imperative that we have an accurate system of accounting for these eye injuries. If we do not understand the magnitude of the problem, it is impossible to properly plan for and invest in adequate treatment. It is for this reason that we respectfully request the following information for the period October 1, 2002 through September 2007, broken down by quarter:

* The total number of eye injuries (force-wide) sustained in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the total number of such injuries that resulted in a medical evacuation from theater;
* The Department's estimate of the total number of eye injuries sustained in combat but that did not result in a medical evacuation from theater;
* The number of cases of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI's) that also contained a diagnosis of a vision impairment or other vision dysfunction due to TBI injury;
* The number of eye injuries that required eye surgery in Army, Navy, or Air Force medical facilities; and
* The number of blinded service members referred for either outpatient or inpatient Department of Veterans Affairs Blind Rehabilitative Services or private agency rehabilitation.

We know you would agree that our nation's men and women in uniform deserve nothing but our best efforts in understanding, diagnosis and treating these eye injuries. Thank you for your attention to our request. We look forward to receiving a response with this information by November 16, 2007.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
United States Senator

John Kerry
United States Senator

Pete Domenici
United States Senator

Chuck Hagel
United States Senator


Source:
Back to top