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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PASCRELL. I thank my friend from New Jersey for yielding.

Mr. Chairman, 7 years into war, we are still not properly screening and treating our troops for traumatic brain injury, known as the signature injury of those wars. This is unacceptable.

My amendment today builds on the requirements for the cognitive screening outline in the 2008 defense authorization bill, which most of us voted for, to identify soldiers for possible brain injury.

My amendment ensures the same tool is used for pre-and post-deployment cognitive screenings. It requires the Department of Defense to complete comparative studies in order to find the best cognitive screening tool for our troops. The fiscal year 2008 defense authorization bill required predeployment and postdeployment screenings of soldiers' cognitive ability.

It is right in the law. Congress passed it. The President at that time, President Bush, signed it. Two years later, the law has not been fulfilled. The Department of Defense has implemented predeployment screening using a computerized tool known as ANAM, the Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics.

The Army released a memo in November 2008, which just came to our attention 2 months ago. It states, ``Routine postdeployment ANAM testing is not authorized.'' We came upon this totally by accident. This is not what Congress passed in bipartisan support.

As a result, less than 1 percent of the 550,000 members of the Armed Forces have been given postdeployment cognitive screenings. This is in violation of the intent of the 2008 defense authorization.

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Mr. PASCRELL. Instead of using the same test, the military uses a simple questionnaire for postdeployment screenings--a written questionnaire.

These assessments are not comparable. They do not detect changes to a soldier's brain. Just like in sports, the key to pre- and postinjury assessment is to use the same tool. When you have a baseline, you are better able to compare.

As cochair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, I recognize the need to help both our military and civilian populations in addressing brain injury. My amendment, which is endorsed by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which has bipartisan support, ensures our troops are given the proper cognitive screenings today and in the future.

I ask my colleagues to support my amendment.

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