April 29, 2021, 10:48 am
Letters to Appropriations subcommittees highlight urgency of “silent epidemic”
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Don Bacon (R-NE-02), co-chairs of the Congressional Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force, led a bipartisan contingent of House colleagues requesting funding increases for vital traumatic brain injury (TBI) programs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022.
In a letter to the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Reps. Pascrell and Bacon led 53 of their colleagues requesting funding increases for several programs authorized by the TBI Act, and for the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) TBI Model Systems, administered by the Administration for Community Living. The Members’ requests include: $5 million in funding for the National Concussion Surveillance System (NCSS), $6.7 million for the CDC to continue TBI programming, and an increase of $12 million for TBI-related state grants.
“Known as the ‘silent epidemic,’ TBI was dubbed the signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, incidence continues to increase here at home among our nation’s civilian population,” the Members wrote to the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. “From the battlefield to the football field, TBI remains a leading cause of death and disability in both adults and youth, each day taking the lives of 138 people in our country. The primary source of funding to address this growing population is provided through the TBI Act programs.”
In a separate letter to the Subcommittee on Defense, Reps. Pascrell and Bacon led 56 House colleagues requesting increased funding for the Department of Defense (DOD) in FY 2022 to identify and care for wounded warriors with TBI and psychological health issues, and to improve research in these areas.
“As you well know, TBI continues to be the signature injury among our nation’s service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 400,000 troops have been diagnosed with mild TBI since 2000. This number continues to increase as identification and detection methods become more accurate. TBI is a complex condition that requires comprehensive, specialized care. In recent years, the DOD has made significant strides in improving both in-theater and post-incident assessment and diagnosis, but still more needs to be done in evaluating troops’ ability to return to duty. Intensive and innovative rehabilitation care is also needed for those sustaining severe TBIs and left with varying levels of disorders of consciousness,” the Members wrote to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Defense.
For decades, Rep. Pascrell has been a leader in advancing brain injury policy on Capitol Hill. In 2018, he authored the TBI Program Reauthorization Act of 2018, which extended federal TBI programs through 2023 and authorized resources to boost the CDC’s efforts to launch its NCSS program. Pascrell co-founded the Congressional 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, members of the Armed Forces, and athletes.
Reps. Pascrell regularly champions funding for programs at the DOD 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.