Congressional Representatives Gus Bilirakis of Florida and Tim Walz of Minnesota, along with Senators John Boozman of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska, are introducing legislation aimed at improving brain injury rehabilitation for veterans. These lawmakers believe that current laws are too ambiguous, leaving many veterans without vital rehabilitation services.
The Veterans’ Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitative Services’ Improvements Act of 2011
The Veterans’ Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitative Services’ Improvements Act of 2011 seeks to ensure veterans receive care that properly addresses their physical and mental health and quality of life needs. The model used by the Veteran’s Administration today allows only medical treatment, failing to assess the emotional and cognitive needs of soldiers. In the private sector, treatment for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) includes life-skills coaching, employment support and therapy for community reintegration. America’s soldiers deserve the same vital services that the public receives.
Soldiers with Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries
Medical advances for combat injuries have increased survival rates. However, these soldiers still face the challenges of rehabilitation from their injuries. In the past ten years, more than 1,500 service members suffered severe TBIs. Their ongoing needs may range from support for semi-independent living to total care. Current legislation only supports soldiers in their needs for physical rehabilitation.
Soldiers Need Comprehensive Care
Representative Tim Walz, a 24-year Army National Guard Veteran stated, “When a veteran suffering from TBI comes to the VA for treatment, they need to be presented with a comprehensive approach to rehabilitation that will allow them to recover function, achieve independence and fully integrate back into their communities. This bill ensures we provide comprehensive care instead of just physical rehabilitation, which is what is presently available to our injured veterans.”
Help Soldiers Now and in the Future
Legislators hope that the Act will provide soldiers with a holistic approach to rehabilitation. When the Veterans Administration discontinues care too soon, the injured person often loses the gains made in recovery. Individualized treatment plans will help veterans build on those accomplishments. Programs that focus on physical, cognitive and vocational functioning over the long term can help soldiers solidify gains and enjoy higher levels of independent functioning in their lives afterward.
Support from the Wounded Warrior Project
The Wounded Warrior Project supports the legislation, citing the “often agonizing experience of wounded warriors who have been denied important community-reintegration supports and who have experienced premature termination of rehabilitation services.” The project offers several programs to raise public awareness about the needs of injured soldiers and provide for their needs.
We care deeply about injured veterans and the injuries they suffer. As attorneys who represent those with severe traumatic brain injuries, we know the frustration and difficulty these individuals face. If you or someone you care about suffers from a severe brain injury, please contact our office. Our experienced staff will assess your situation and help you decide if you should file a TBI lawsuit.