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House Passes Pascrell Measure to Help Injured Servicemembers

Amendment included in Defense Authorization will ensure blast exposure history is recorded in military servicemembers’ medical records

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, lauded House passage of a provision he co-authored in H.R. 2500, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020. Specifically, the measure ensures blast exposure history will be recorded in medical records of servicemembers, requiring the enclosure of critical details including the date and duration of the incident.

“I am thrilled to see the House pass our provision on blast injuries in the NDAA,” said Rep. Pascrell, who co-founded the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force in 2001. “As many as 320,000 of our troops—or nearly 20 percent of the soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan—are believed to have sustained a traumatic brain injury while serving in the line of duty. With the inclusion of our amendment, we can better treat and provide for those who have sacrificed so much for our nation. I appreciate the work of Rep. Don Bacon (NE), co-chair of our task force, for his leadership on this issue.”

Reps. Pascrell and Bacon expanded upon the importance of this measure in a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, which can be viewed here.

The National Academy of Medicine has concluded that service members with blast exposure history are at increased risk of long-term health issues including depression, Alzheimer’s-like symptoms, seizures, and problems with social functioning. Optimizing the readiness of servicemembers and recording blast exposure data as Section 714 of the bill now requires is essential so that soldiers receive proper care for any service-connected medical issues that may arise later.

For two decades, Rep. Pascrell has been a leader in advancing brain injury policy on Capitol Hill. He co-founded the Congressional Brain Injury Caucus in 2001 and has served as task force co-chair since its inception. The Caucus 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 these injuries have on all Americans, including children, members of the Armed Forces, and athletes.

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