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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WALZ of Minnesota. I would like to thank the chairman and the ranking member for the great work they're doing on this. I'd also like to thank them for their commitment, not just to the defense of this Nation, but to the care of those warriors who so dearly pay for that defense.

What this amendment does is it increases the appropriation in the Sensory Injury Defense Research programmatic request from $5 million to $10 million for core vision and eye research. This important research will be paid for by redirecting funds from Operations and Management Budget.

You've heard it on the last several speakers talking about traumatic brain injury, the issues that come from that. One of the core indicators and one of the first indicators of traumatic brain injury or mild traumatic brain injury is eye injury.

The brave warriors that sustain these, whether they're puncture injuries or whether they're from concussive blast injuries, start to manifest themselves in loss of vision and eye injuries. Of all of the TBIs that happen in the war zone, 70 percent suffer some type of vision loss. The research to deal with this has long-term benefits.

It is, as I said, one of the first indicators of brain injury. We could start to get early treatment on that, and all the research seems to show that cognitive ability is affected positively the sooner we get on top of that.

There is $600 million and I know tough decisions are made in this bill towards research and battlefield injuries; 15 percent of all those injuries are eye injuries. The $10 million number that we're requesting gives us basic adequate numbers, a floor number, if you will, to start getting that research done.

So I am very appreciative of the tough decisions that get made in this. I would encourage my colleagues to support this amendment to beef up the eye injury research, and I would argue it's morally the right thing to do. We've been trying to work on this with a combination of VA and DOD to get that going.

I yield back the remainder of my time.

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