Legislation would expand, improve treatment of veteran brain injuries

Legislation introduced by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on Tuesday would expand and improve treatment for veterans who suffer from traumatic brain injuries.

The Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Care Improvement Act would extend rehabilitation services available to veterans with brain injuries.

“Our service men and women put themselves in harm’s way to defend our freedoms,” Cassidy said. “We must commit to giving them the care and treatment they need when they return home. This legislation ensures that we honor this commitment to those suffering from traumatic brain injury by extending a program with proven results.”

More than 280,000 veterans have been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury in the last 10 years, and more than 19 percent of veterans may have some form of the disorder, according to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.

Cassidy’s bill would amend a pilot program by replacing the benchmark for treatment from “assisted living” to “community-integrated rehabilitation” services. Neurobehavioral programs, residential programs, comprehensive holistic programs and home-based programs would be included in the treatment options.

Under the legislation, the program would be extended from five to eight years. The bill would also ensure that the program is accessible in each Veteran Affairs healthcare region that contains a VA polytrauma center.

House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is an original cosponsor of the bill.