TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY -- (Senate - September 24, 2008)
Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, as you know, the Defense authorization bill passed the Senate last week. Like many of my colleagues, I filed an amendment to the legislation, which had been included in the committee managers' package. Unfortunately, due to procedural matters stemming from the Senate majority's decision to limit amendments, my amendment, No. 5415--and many others like it--was not permitted to move forward. Although my amendment was not able to be considered by the Senate during debate over the Defense bill, I nonetheless want to bring the issue underlying the amendment to the attention of my colleagues.
My amendment was quite simple. It was a sense of the Senate that stated that funding for Department of Defense programs involving traumatic brain injury, TBI, and psychological health should be included in the President's fiscal year 2010 base budget.
Typically, the majority of funding for such programs has been included in supplemental appropriations measures. The reasoning apparently has been that these programs are a cost of war, and therefore they should be addressed through war supplementals.
But TBI and psychological health issues are problems that have been with us for some time and unfortunately are going to be with us for the foreseeable future.
Military personnel often experience health difficulties owing to TBI and psychological injuries long after their combat tour has been completed. Moreover, it has been reported that as many as one in five military personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq will suffer from TBI. That is a significant percentage of our military, There are currently nearly 3,000 brave Kentuckians deployed in the war on terror. According to these projections, close to 600 of these brave men and women will suffer from TBI. That figure does not even include those who have already returned from theater.
Considering the long-term health ramifications of TBI and the large number of military personnel who will face these challenges, it seems to me that this reality ought to be reflected in DOD's long-term baseline budgeting rather than through ad hoc supplementals.
My amendment would have put the Senate on record as stating that TBI and psychological health issues reflect a long-term budget priority for our Nation and should be considered as part of the regular order. I believe we owe the brave men and women of our military no less.