U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) the co-founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force praised a report released today by the Institute of Medicine that calls for the military to expand pre-deployment and post blast-exposure neurological screening. Pascrell also applauded the study's call for the Defense Department to work with the Department of Veterans' Affairs to conduct a large scale study on Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) in returning combat veterans:
"The United States military has a moral responsibility to closely follow the Institute of Medicine's recommendations. This study comes from America's leading healthcare experts based purely on science and free of any bias or undue influence. It is no secret that our military leadership was unprepared to deal with the frequency of brain injury incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan. The recommendations in this study represent an opportunity for the military to improve inadequate policies and pivot towards a new era of higher standards for troop preparedness.
"Congress has worked with the military to improve brain injury screening and care for soldiers and TBI survivors, but much work remains. We can't fix what we don't know, and without any hard statistical data, nobody knows exactly how many veterans have returned home as brain injury survivors.
"It is critical that a registry be created and function retroactively to account for as many wounded warriors as possible. Too many of America's bravest sons and daughters have already slipped through the cracks unchecked for what has become known as the signature injury' of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I pledge to work with the Task Force and military leaders like Defense Secretary Gates and General Loree Sutton to emphasize the urgency of this matter and implement the Institute of Medicine's recommendations."
The Institute of Medicine serves as adviser to the nation to improve health. Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector, and the public. The mission of the Institute of Medicine embraces the health of people everywhere.