PASCRELL PRAISES ESTABLISHMENT OF DEFENSE CENTER OF EXCELLENCE FOR TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY
LEGISLATION AUTHORIZES TROOP PAY RAISE
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08), today joined an overwhelming bipartisan majority and backed a plan to strengthen our military, fund our troops and improve military readiness. The Defense Authorization Bill was approved by a vote of 370-49 and is expected to be approved by the Senate and signed into law.
As the founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, Pascrell led congressional support for the authorization of the Defense Center of Excellence (DCoE) for Psychological Health (PH) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) which is included in the legislation.
The center will integrate quality programs and advanced medical technology to streamline expertise in psychological health and traumatic brain injuries. In developing the national collaborative network, the DCoE will coordinate existing medical, academic, research, and advocacy assets within the services, with those of the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Health and Human Services (HHS). It will also incorporate other federal, state and local agencies, as well as academic institutions.
"The Defense Center of Excellence is a major victory for thousands of brain injured veterans in need of care," stated Pascrell. "Collaboration between the Defense Department and the VA combined with the TBI expertise available in the private sector will ensure that all available resources are fully utilized to efficiently benefit service members with TBI. With so many blast injury victims returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, it is about time we streamlined TBI research and services to avoid wasteful duplicated efforts."
The Defense Authorization bill also authorizes a pay raise for troops and their families that goes above the President's request and new resources for additional Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs,) up-armored Humvees and body armor.
The Defense Authorization bill takes steps to remedy the Army readiness crisis in America. Army readiness has dropped to unprecedented levels, and Army National Guard units have, on average, only 40 percent of their required equipment. Furthermore, many stateside units are not fully equipped and would not be considered ready if called upon to respond during an emergency.
"The American military is the greatest in the world, and I was proud to back legislation that will make our armed forces stronger and our nation more secure. This bill protects our troops and their families and helps ensure that our fighting men and women have all the resources they need and deserve," concluded Pascrell.