Mikulski Stands Up For Access To Treatment And Care For Wounded Service Members
‘Our soldiers, who have fought for our freedom, should not have to fight another war to get the care they need,’ Senator SaysMarch 28, 2012
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today participated in a Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing examining the health care of wounded soldiers. The hearing focused on the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) on wounded service members, particularly veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Just because a war is over for us doesn't mean it is over for the soldier, or his spouse, or her children. Some bear the permanent injuries of war, but all bear the permanent impact," Senator Mikulski said. "We have a responsibility to our troops and their families about more than just meeting their immediate war wounds, but sticking with them through the wounds you can't see—the scars that heal but don't go away."
As a member of the Senate Military Family Caucus, Senator Mikulski has been a leader in providing funding and resources for medical research to manage pain, which benefits troops both on and off the field. She has worked to ensure caregivers of wounded warriors have the resources and support to care for both their injured loved one and themselves.
The hearing included two panels. The first panel consisted of Lieutenant General Patricia Horoho, Surgeon General of the Army; Vice Admiral Matthew L. Nathan, Surgeon General of the Navy; and Lieutenant General Charles B. Green, Surgeon General of the Air Force. The second panel included Major General Jimmie O. Keenan, Chief, Army Nurse Corps; Rear Admiral Elizabeth S. Niemyer, Director of the Navy Nurse Corps; and Major General Kimberly Siniscalchi, Asst. Air Force Surgeon General for Nursing.
Senator Mikulski's remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:
"Just because a war is over for us doesn't mean it is over for the soldier, or his spouse, or her children. Some bear the permanent injuries of war, but all bear the permanent impact. We have a responsibility to our troops and their families about more than just meeting their immediate war wounds, but sticking with them through the wounds you can't see—the scars that heal but don't go away.
"PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) are the signature psychological wounds of these conflicts. It is estimated that 1 out of 5 Iraq and Afghan Vets are affected by PTSD. They are also the least understood and the most destructive.
"PTSD and TBI erode a wounded warrior's ability to be parents to their children, partners to their spouses, and providers for their families and loved ones. The loss of these skills robs them of their dignity.
"Our military spouses and children are bearing these burdens as well, right alongside our soldiers and veterans. We need to make sure that the caregivers have the support as well.
"Ultimately, my goal is to ensure that every wounded warrior deserves a life, a family and a job. We must ensure that they can regain the skills and balance for all three things. We know they will be changed by their experience in combat, but that experience must not rob them of dignity and sense of self. They must receive the care they need to regain the skills to rejoin society.
"Just relying on technology and more money won't solve these problems. Meaningful health care reform must address the underlying organizational problem—to ensure we have a system that serves people and families.
"We must break down the stovepipes between the DOD military health system. We know that the acute care for our injured troops has been astounding, producing historic rates of survival. We owe a debt of gratitude to our military medical professionals.
"While we've saved their lives, we are failing to give them their lives back. Our soldiers have earned the best care and benefits we can provide. They should not have to fight another war to get the care they need."