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Kerry, Obama, Hagel, Domenici Introduce Legislation that would Provide Treatment for Veterans with Eye Injuries

Press Release

Location: Boston, MA

Kerry, Obama, Hagel, Domenici Introduce Legislation that would Provide Treatment for Veterans with Eye Injuries

Senator John Kerry today introduced the Neuro-Optometric Center of Excellence bill today that would close the gap between traditional optometric care and the non-standard care that is required for patients with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Rough estimates say that there are almost 3,000 veterans who've returned from Iraq and Afghanistan that suffer from TBI.

"With the increasing number of injuries from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), soldiers are oftentimes seriously wounded without showing any outward signs. This legislation will allow more doctors to be trained to diagnose, treat and rehabilitate soldiers with such injuries," said Senator Kerry. "After the sacrifices these brave men and women have made for our country, it is absolutely essential that we provide them with the care they so desperately need and so justifiably deserve."

Senators Barack Obama (D-Illinois), Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) and Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) are co-sponsors of the bill.

"One of the under-reported consequences of this war has been the increase in eye injuries and vision impairments among our heroic service members," Senator Obama said. "Given that more than 16 percent of all casualties evacuated from Iraq sustained eye injuries, we must strengthen our capacity to study, diagnose and care for these brave men and women. This bipartisan measure will help achieve that goal. Providing the very best care for our injured service members and veterans is one thing about this war we can still get right."

"Service members sacrificing for our country in a time of war should be assured that they will receive the best medical treatment and rehabilitation available, without having to wait months or years due to staff shortages. Rehabilitation training for those who have lost their eyesight enables them to function in their surroundings and live more independently," Hagel said.

"We are quickly learning that roadside bombs have long-term and wide-ranging health implications for troops in combat, including brain and vision damage. Eye injuries are some of the most common casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they aren't always simple to diagnose or treat," said Domenici. "The bill we are proposing seeks to enhance the capabilities of veterans' health facilities to improve diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of returning warriors who have sustained traumatic brain injury."

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