This week in Washington, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) -- the second appropriations bill we have approved for fiscal year 2013. The safety and security of our nation continues to be a top priority of mine, and I was proud to support this responsible bill that gives our troops the resources they need and deserve.
As our nation honors our fallen soldiers on the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, I believe that it is also vitally important to remember the sacrifice of our surviving service members -- thousands of whom are returning from combat with mild to severe Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
I am pleased to report that on Friday the House approved my amendment with my colleague Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA-01) which expedites new and innovative treatments, not currently available within military and veteran medical facilities, to those suffering from TBI and PTSD. I originally introduced this initiative in January 2011 as the TBI Treatment Act (H.R. 396).
My TBI treatment initiative creates a five-year pilot program that allows military patients to receive health care from private physicians who are utilizing an array of leading-edge, successful therapies to treat TBI and PTSD. Physicians may qualify for payment from the Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs through a "pay-for-performance" plan, meaning they must prove that a patient has experienced demonstrable improvement. Treatment and reimbursement safeguards in the amendment ensure access to innovative private treatments while reserving payment only for treatments that work.
I strongly believe we can best honor our nation's active duty soldiers and veterans by ensuring that their health is a top priority and that they have access to the most effective treatments available. Our soldiers and veterans suffering from TBI and PTSD need help and hope immediately, and I am proud to once again stand up for those who have made costly sacrifices for American freedom and prosperity.
Violence Against Women Act
On Wednesday, I was proud to support H.R. 4970, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA). VAWA provides federal assistance to organizations and programs that support women who are victims of domestic abuse, stalking and sexual assault.
Specifically, VAWA reauthorizes funding for five years -- $660 million in funding per year -- to help prevent domestic violence and protect victims of abuse. VAWA also streamlines and consolidates some grants for maximum benefit; increases resources for investigations, prosecutions and victim services; increases penalties for sexual assault, sexual abuse and stalking; and promotes educational awareness to prevent violence and improve services for young victims. I was encouraged to see the legislation pass the House this week and will continue to support initiatives, like VAWA, to help assist all female victims of such horrific violence, abuse and assault.
Passport Travel Reminder
If you and your family plan to travel this summer, I encourage you to check the status of your passport to ensure that it has not expired and will not expire during the time of your travel. Although not required by the State Department, many countries require six months to be remaining on your passport when traveling in case of a delayed departure from that country.
If you discover that your passport has expired or you do not have a passport and will be traveling in the next 14 days, call 1-877-487-2778 to speak to a representative of the National Passport Center. For more information on the requirements and documentation you may need when applying for or renewing your passport, visit the U.S. Department of State's Dallas Passport Agency website.