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I’m pleased to see that the invisible injuries suffered by our veterans as a result of concussive injuries sustained during their duty are starting to be recognized as a serious medical situation requiring the attention of our government. Statistically speaking, proper care of this disease [traumatic brain injury] can cost 10’s of thousands of dollars, sometimes even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To provide our returning veterans with these therapy services under TRICARE is an important step to their recovery and hopeful return as a productive member of our society. Without these benefits, families of wounded veterans will be helpless to cure or accommodate the disease of acquired brain injury.

Here is a brief press release from the National Brain Injury Association:

FY10 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1390)

On Thursday, July 23, 2009, the Senate passed its version of the FY10 National Defense Authorization Act. During debate, Senator John McCain for Senator Graham offered an amendment that authorizes the Secretary of Defense to carry out a pilot program for providing cognitive rehabilitation therapy services under TRICARE. Both BIAA and the Wounded Warrior Project have worked tirelessly to advocate for the inclusion of this amendment. To view the amendment, click on the link below:

The amendment requires the Department of Defense to consult the Department of Veterans Affairs, The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and relevant national organizations with experience in treating traumatic brain injury. It also requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to congress evaluating the effectiveness of the program and making recommendations of the appropriateness of including cognitive rehabilitation as a benefit under the TRICARE program.

In response to the adoption by unanimous consent of this amendment into S. 1390, a representative from the Congressional Budget Office reached out to BIAA to ask advice regarding the cost and duration of cognitive rehabilitation therapy in order to formulate a cost estimate for the pilot program. BIAA authored the following comments in response:

Currently, the Senate is gearing up for a conference with the House to agree on final language. The informal process began this week even though house conferees have yet to be named. With hope that finalization will happen in early September, be on the lookout for BIAA action alerts to urge congress to retain this important amendment as part of the final package.

In conclusion, BIAA is thrilled to have the opportunity to work on this important inclusion in S. 1390 and believes that this is a much needed step forward in providing access to brain injury care for returning service members.

I hope that by December, I will be urging each and everyone of my InjuryBoard readers to contact your representatives once this important package comes to a final vote. Proper medical and therapeutic care is the least we can do for our men and women who put their lives on the line for this great country of ours.

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