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Rep. Pascrell, Sen. Warren Demand Update on Efforts to Protect Servicemembers

Bipartisan letter to Pentagon seeks answers on traumatic brain injury progress

Washington, D.C., February 12, 2020

Today, U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-09) and Don Bacon (R-NE-02), co-Chairs of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) sent a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) requesting an update on their efforts to better prevent and protect servicemembers from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The lawmakers' letter comes after 109 American servicemembers suffered TBIs following an Iranian missile strike on Al Asad Airbase housing U.S. troops in Iraq.

“Given the potential serious long-term effects of TBIs, DoD must continue to take steps to protect and treat servicemembers who have been exposed to significant blast exposure," the lawmakers wrote in their letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Today’s letter comes just two days after Pascrell demanded that the Pentagon come clean on injuries sustained by servicemembers in the January 8 Irnaianc attack on Al-Asaid airbase. On January 23, Pascrell wrote to the Department of Defense Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness and the Assistant Secretary of Defense Health Affairs asking for information on the extent of U.S. servicemember injuries in Iraq. And on February 4, Pascrell and Bacon penned a bipartisan letter to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Defense continuing to seek answers on the extent of U.S. troop injuries.

Effects of traumatic brain injury can be short-term or long-term, and include impaired thinking or memory, movement, vision or hearing, or emotional functioning, such as personality changes or depression. Currently, between 3.2 million and 5.3 million people, including civilians, veterans, and servicemembers, live with a TBI-related disability in the United States.

For two decades, Rep. Pascrell has been a leader in advancing brain injury policy on Capitol Hill. He co-founded the Congressional Traumatic 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 these injuries have on all Americans, including children, the elderly, members of the Armed Forces, and athletes. Rep. Pascrell also champions 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.

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