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On Wednesday, April 2, the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on TBI Related Vision Issues.
In the hearing, the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) noted research showing that 75 percent of servicemembers with documented TBI injuries also have complaints about vision problems, and that approximately 60 percent of those injured have associated neurological visual disorders. A study conducted by one of the panelists, Gregory L. Goodrich, who is a research psychologist at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, found that both Polytrauma Level I and Level II patients had high rates of visual impairment and/or visual dysfunction, and that injuries caused by a blast event were associated with more vision related loss and/or deficits than other causes.
Mr. Zampieri urged the Subcommittee to request that DoD/VA provide for the full implementation of the “Military Eye Trauma Center of Excellence and Eye Trauma Registry,” which was recently authorized as one of the Wounded Warrior provisions in last year’s defense authorization bill (H.R. 4986). BIAA has officially endorsed legislation (S. 1999) to create such a Center.
Essential Veterans legislation authorizes the following:
Expands VA health care eligibility for returning veterans from two to five years.
Require VA to develop a comprehensive rehabilitation and community reintegration plan for each veteran with traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Authorize the use of non-VA facilities if a veteran needing intensive care for TBI or other brain injuries does not reside near one of VA's five Polytrauma Centers.
Give VA providers the ability to work with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center to conduct research and treatment for veterans requiring long-term care for TBI.
Establish an assisted living pilot program for veterans with TBI.
Require VA to provide a mental health examination within 30 days of a veteran's request.
Improve outreach to members of the National Guard and Reserves, in response to the major role these forces are carrying out in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.