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Staten Island, NY – This week Congressman Michael E. McMahon (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) introduced the Traumatic Brain Injury Coverage and Support Act, which enables veterans who have been clinically diagnosed with traumatic brain injury to receive VA benefits and treatment, even if the diagnosing doctor practices outside the VA system. This bill is yet another step in a series of ongoing legislative efforts by Rep. McMahon’s bipartisan Invisible Wounds Caucus to highlight and curtail the increasing rates of untreated mental injuries and suicides amongst returning veterans.

Rep. McMahon said, “Traumatic brain injury is a real medical condition that demands immediate care. Unfortunately we are up against an overextended military medical system that is short on doctors and reluctant to take risks. Many of our nation’s heroes have been exposed to an explosive device, and spend far too much time waiting to see a VA neurologist. This is unacceptable and has contributed to the tragically growing number of soldier suicides. My bill will open the VA system to outside neurologists to increase the rate at which veterans are properly diagnosed with TBI and treated through the VA system. ”

Traumatic brain injury remains one of the most under-diagnosed conditions among returning veterans due to the illusiveness of the injury and short-staffed facilities in the VA and DoD. Symptoms range from mental affects like depression, anxiety, and hallucinations to physical expressions like blindness, aphasia, tinnitus and seizures. The Traumatic Brain Injury Coverage and Support Act will direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to treat traumatic brain injury diagnoses conducted by non-Department physicians as sufficient for making decisions with respect to whether or not certain claimants have traumatic brain injury. The bill aims to reduce wait times to see a VA neurologist and the prevalence of misdiagnosis in regards to TBI.
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