For Your Benefit
For and about Hawaii's military

Sunday, May 1, 2005

VA centers treat
brain injuries in
14% of casualties

Question: What is Veterans Affairs doing about treating brain injuries from combat?

Answer: In times of combat, brain injury accounts for 14 percent to 20 percent of surviving casualties.

The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, headquartered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, was created to provide services to active duty military, their dependents and veterans with traumatic brain injury. In 2004, VA funded 15 brain injury research projects totaling $1.8 million and VA researchers participated in 24 non-VA funded brain injury projects.

Q: I recently heard about a new VA traumatic injury insurance. What is this all about?

A: U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka has co-sponsored Senate Bill 806, which the VA endorses, that would create low-cost traumatic injury insurance for members of the armed services. Service members could purchase this insurance that would provide a lump-sum payment up to $100,000 for certain catastrophic injuries that occurred on active duty. The coverage would also be available to members of the National Guard and Reserves. Receiving the insurance would be in addition to disability compensation or medical care a veteran can receive from the VA.

Injuries covered would include permanent loss of sight, quadriplegia and paraplegia, loss of a hand or foot, loss of hearing or speech, and comas. A similar bill in the House, HR 1618, is called the Wounded Warrior Servicemembers Group Disability Insurance Act.

If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran, call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049 or visit the VA Web site at www.va.gov/hawaii or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.

Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin, can be reached by phone at 294-4075 or by e-mail at gkakesako@starbulletin.com.

See also: In The Military

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