Getting Soldiers the Treatment They Deserve (Rep. Baron Hill)

When my fellow Hoosier colleague Congressman Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) asked me to cosponsor his bill that provides more options in the care received by soldiers suffering Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), I did not hesitate.

Congressman Donnelly has put together an excellent piece of legislation, H.R. 2048, that would allow service members diagnosed with severe TBI, or their families, the option to defer medical treatment from the military up to one year after diagnosis so that they can receive TRICARE-covered rehabilitation and care at private facilities. Currently, soldiers suffering from TBI are immediately retired from the military for medical reasons and become eligible to receive VA health care. But, VA health care does not cover cognitive therapy for TBI at private facilities, while the health insurance afforded to active duty military (TRICARE) does.

The use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) in Iraq and Afghanistan means more and more of our soldiers are experiencing traumatic brain injuries. While the medical care our troops who sustain such injuries receive is first rate, we need to make sure they have more options available as to where they receive treatment and how it is covered by their health insurance.

By extending TRICARE coverage for our soldiers who suffer TBI, we are providing them what they are due – the option to pursue care where they choose. Right now, TBI care provided by the VA is only available at four locations across the country. This often means that families must pack up their lives and move to be close to their injured loved one. They might lose their job and their home in the process. We should not add another burden onto these families.