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thedrifter
04-11-07, 05:28 PM
Bill would keep brain-injured in DoD care
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Apr 11, 2007 16:47:18 EDT

Two Senate Democrats want troops suffering from traumatic brain injuries to be kept on active duty, not medically retired, so they can receive more medical attention.

Sens. Evan Bayh of Indiana and Hillary Clinton of New York believe keeping injured service members on active duty would allow them to receive care from the Defense Department and from specialized private care centers, which would be better than care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Bayh and Clinton are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which will hold a hearing tomorrow about problems for some wounded combat veterans getting treatment after their status changes from active military to veteran.

Under the legislation introduced Wednesday, troops suffering from traumatic brain injuries would have a one-year medical extension. The bill also would require a medical advocate to be appointed for all brain-injured patients and demand an annual report from the VA about the steps being taken to improve VA care.

Complaints that the VA is not prepared to treat Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffering brain injuries is the chief reason for the bill, its sponsors said.

Bayh said a combination of medical shortcomings and administrative hurdles “have prevented many of our heroes from receiving the care they desperately need and deserve.”

The legislation “would provide an immediate solution for soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injury, which is especially critical when time plays such an important role in recovery,” he said.

Clinton, who is sponsoring other legislation aimed at expanding the government’s ability to diagnose and treat brain injuries in combat veterans, said she is just trying to give troops and their families what they deserve.

“When you serve your country, your country should serve you,” she said. “When a service member is severely injured, that soldier, Marine, airman, sailor, reservist or Guard member deserves the very best health care and treatment a grateful nation can provide.”

The bill has the support of the Wounded Warrior Project and the Military Officers Association of America.

Ellie