Expand Services for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries
More than 5,800 service members have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – over 4 times the number of injured veterans requiring an amputation.
Veterans who have suffered a severe TBI must relearn the most basic skills, sometimes including how to walk, communicate with family and friends, shop, cook, and how to perform other daily activities that are essential for living independently in the community.
Severely wounded warriors often receive state of the art medical care while they are in the acute phase of their recovery, but once a veteran returns home, these services often end too soon, causing them to lose important gains in their recovery. Long-term support services – such as supported employment, community reintegration therapy, and other services that fall outside of the medical model – are often out of reach for these veterans despite being essential to their success in the community.
We can’t let a warrior lose ground on the road to recovery, because services aren’t available or have been cut off too soon.
A new piece of legislation introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate (H.R. 1855 / S. 957) will ensure veterans receive the necessary rehabilitative care throughout their entire recovery and that they will be entitled to the full range of services needed for independence and greater quality of life.
Take Action! Please contact your members of Congress and urge them to support The Veterans’ Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Services Act of 2011.
I am writing to urge you to support H.R. 1855/ S. 957 – The Veterans’ Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Services Improvement Act of 2011. This important piece of legislation closes the gap in both the duration and types of services provided to our wounded service members who have sustained what are often profoundly debilitating traumatic brain injuries. Specifically, the bill clarifies that VA cannot prematurely cut off needed rehabilitation services, which ensures these veterans can get the support they need – whether those are health-services or non-medical assistance – to achieve maximum independence and quality of life.
Each traumatic brain injury (TBI) is unique. Those with severe TBI may have such profound cognitive and neurological impairment that they require long years of caretaking and specialized rehabilitation. While many VA facilities have dedicated rehabilitation-medicine staff, the scope of services actually provided to veterans with TBI can be limited, both in duration and in the range of services VA will provide or authorize. These veterans must be supported not only in the acute phase of their recovery while they continue to make rehabilitative and medical gains, but over the long-term so those gains are not lost.
Independent living and community reintegration are of the utmost importance to this young generation of warriors. Yet the VA’s rehabilitation focus relies almost exclusively on a medical model that does not necessarily provide the range of support a young person needs to achieve the fullest possible life in the community. In contrast, other models of rehabilitative care meet those needs through such services as life-skills coaching, supported employment, and community reintegration therapy. But these services are seldom made available to veterans. Veterans with TBI should receive the full range of services needed to live meaningful and independent lives in their communities.
As your constituent, I urge you to join in supporting our nation’s veterans through your support of H.R. 1855/ S. 957.
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