Pascrell Lauds House Passage of Blast Exposure Records Amendment
Washington, DC, May 23, 2018
Today, Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), the co-founder of the Congressional Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force announced the passage in the House of Representatives of an amendment he authored to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which will direct the Secretary of Defense to include blast exposure history in the service records of members of the Armed Forces to ensure that, if medical issues arise later, service members receive care for any service-connected injuries.
“Passage of this bipartisan amendment will go a long way to improving the care our servicemembers receive when they return from the battlefield,” said Rep. Pascrell. “The full effects on individual servicemembers by repeated exposure to blast events are largely unknown and can take years to show up. Maintaining accurate and comprehensive records of blast exposure, including during training, will improve our understanding of blast-induced brain injury. Passage of this amendment will allow these injuries to be more fully studied and ensure our servicemembers and veterans receive the care to which they are entitled.”
“Our soldiers constantly put themselves in danger for our freedoms. While some make it back home safe, others suffer from ‘invisible wounds,’” said Rep. Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL-17), the co-chair of the Congressional Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force. “These traumatic brain injuries not only affect our soldiers’ minds, but also their livelihoods. I am proud my colleague, Rep. Bill Pascrell, and I were able to get this provision included in the FY19 NDAA. This amendment will direct the Secretary of Defense to include incidents of blast exposure as part of soldiers’ service records in order to ensure our soldiers receive care for any service-connected injuries. This will help make sure these heroes receive the care they need and deserve.”
"At times symptoms of a brain injury can present themselves years after the incident has occurred. The National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA) applauds Congressman Pascrell for ensuring that exposure to blasts are documented in servicemembers' health records. This practice will help to ensure detection and diagnosis, as well as proper treatment for injuries sustained years prior,” said Rebeccah Wolfkiel, the Executive Director of NASHIA.
“The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) applauds Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. for introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require the Secretary of Defense to include blast exposure history as part of service records. Challenges arising from brain injury may not surface for many years. Service members should be protected and receive the necessary services they need to be part of their communities after TBI,” said Susan Connors, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the BIAA.
In a report published last month, the independent, bipartisan, and nonprofit Center for a New American Security (CNAS) brought attention to ways the military could better protect our men and women from blast injuries. Adding blast exposure to service records was one recommendation made. Several traumatic brain injury advocacy organizations, including BrainLine, Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), and National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA), supported the amendment.
For years, Rep. Pascrell has been a leader in advancing brain injury policy on Capitol Hill. He co-founded the Brain Injury Task Force in 2001 and has served as task force co-chair since its inception. The Task Force works to increase awareness of brain injury in the United States, supports research initiatives for rehabilitation and potential cures, and strives to address the effects such injuries have on families, children, education, and the workforce.
Reps. Pascrell and Rooney also champion funding for programs at the Department of Defense that go towards TBI research and treatment, such as the Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, and the National Intrepid Center of Excellence. They will continue to support these critical programs to ensure they are adequately funded in the Defense Appropriations Act, expected to be released in June.