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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington DC

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Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Chair, as Co-Chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, for the last ten years I have fought for patients with brain injuries. Traumatic brain injury (TB!) is the signature wound of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. While we made great progress on ensuring our soldiers have the best care, today we must make two corrections to better identify and treat our service members with brain injuries.

My first amendment addresses a February GAO report which found major problems in the management of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCOE) by TRICARE. My amendment would require the Secretary to transfer this agency to another appropriate branch in order for it to be more effectively managed.

My second amendment will help identify the soldiers with brain injuries who have slipped through the cracks as they returned home from the battlefield. Prior to June 2010, the Department had a disjointed screening system in which a pre-deployment service member received a computerized test, but post-deployment they filled out a paper questionnaire. My amendment today would require the Department to come up with a plan to identify, refer, and treat service members that did not benefit from the new policy that was implemented in June 2010.

We have made a promise to our men and women in uniform that we would take care of them when they returned from the battlefield. In order to do so, we need to at least identify these service members. This Memorial Day weekend we must honor our veterans by protecting the benefits they have earned and deserve. I ask that my colleagues support these amendments for their service members who are struggling with invisible wounds.

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