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Pascrell Measures to Aid Injured Servicemembers Pass House

Amendment in National Defense Authorization Act requires blast exposure history be included in medical records

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, praised House passage of provisions he co-authored in H.R. 2500, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020. The measures ensure 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, and modifies an ongoing longitudinal medical study on blast pressure exposure to ensure it collects and records data so that it is interoperable and accessible.

“I am gratified that the House has passed our provisions on blast injuries,” said Rep. Pascrell, who co-founded the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force in 2001. “Nearly 383,000 of our troops – or approximately one-fifth of the soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan – are believed to have sustained a traumatic brain injury while serving in the line of duty in the last ten years. Including these provisions in the NDAA will help us better treat and provide for those who have sacrificed so much for America.”

Pascrell added, “I am very happy this package also includes a guarantee of 12 weeks of paid parental leave for our federal workforce, a pay raise for our servicemembers, and a repeal of the so-called widow’s tax that has wrongly denied survivor benefits to the spouses of veterans. Each of these measures will make a critical difference in the lives of American families and are another reason this NDAA legislation is a net victory for the nation.”

The National Academy of Science, Engineering, and 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 the bill now requires is essential so that soldiers receive proper care for any service-connected medical issues that may arise in the future.

Since he entered Congress, Rep. Pascrell has been a leader in advancing brain injury policy in Washington. Pascrell 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.

Reps. Pascrell and Don Bacon (R-NE-02), co-chairs of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, 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.

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