March 21, 2012

Manchin Statement on Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Day

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement today to recognize national Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Awareness Day, which is being observed today. TBI is a dangerously under-recognized disease that affects many of our military men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2001, 320,000 soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have sustained a brain injury during deployment, and it is the leading cause of death and disability among Americans younger than 45 years old. 

“The brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect this country deserve the best possible treatment in theatre and when they return home,” Senator Manchin said. “I’m sad to say that this country has a lot of work to do when it comes to recognizing and treating how much Traumatic Brain Injury is affecting our service members. Today is a day for us to raise awareness of this disease, and to remind us all that it can happen at anytime, anywhere, to anyone. I will continue to work to bring awareness to this issue and push for effective treatments.”

Last February, Senator Manchin and a bipartisan group of 73 members of the House and Senate wrote to then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, sharing their concern that servicemembers returning from the battlefield today are unable to receive therapies that treat traumatic brain injury unless they have a specific waiver. The treatment – known as cognitive rehabilitation – helps with thinking and perception. This therapy has been widely recognized as a proven treatment for TBI by experts and groups including the National Institutes of Health, the Brain Injury Association of America, and the National Academy of Neuropsychology. 

In response to the Senator’s request, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs launched the Study of Cognitive Rehabilitation Effectiveness to demonstrate the effectiveness of cognitive rehabilitation therapy treatments for traumatic brain injury.  With this evidence, insurance companies, including TRICARE, the military’s healthcare plan, will no longer be able to deny coverage for cognitive rehabilitation for TBI.