SENATE PASSES SEN. CRAIG'S TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY LEGISLATION
U.S. Senator Larry Craig, the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, today praised his colleagues for unanimously passing the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act. The bill includes language Sen. Craig sought which will enable the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to work more closely when treating those with traumatic brain injuries.
"I am pleased that the Majority Leader worked with the Minority to pass this important legislation. I only wish he would work in a similar fashion to pass the whole Defense bill," Craig said. "The important thing now is that we are closer to getting more help to our wounded warriors."
The defense authorization bill stalled in the Senate last week amid disagreements over policies involving the war in Iraq. Under the bill the Senate passed Wednesday, VA officials would be able to place veterans with brain injuries into medical facilities outside the VA hospital system.
"We want those with TBI to receive the best care available. The focus must be on providing the best care we can, wherever that may be," Craig said.
The legislation also calls for VA to conduct more research into the treatment of serious brain trauma and would establish a pilot program for assisted living services for veterans with severe brain injuries. The bill also requires VA to provide age-appropriate nursing home care to veterans with severe TBI.
In addition to improving care for veterans with traumatic brain injuries, it also requires that an initial mental health evaluation be provided to veterans or returning servicemembers no later than 30 days following a request for such an evaluation.
The legislation would also create a demonstration project to identify members of the Armed Forces on active duty who are at risk of becoming homeless upon discharge or release from active duty, and to provide referral, counseling, and support services to prevent them from becoming homeless.