I got an email today from the White House with the announcement that the DoD and VA are funding another PTS and TBI study. The research will cost over $100 million dollars. While this is good news, what have we been wasting money on for the past decade?!
“At VA, ensuring that our Veterans receive quality care is our highest priority,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki. “Investing in innovative research that will lead to treatments for PTSD and TBI is critical to providing the care our Veterans have earned and deserve.”
What I really don’t understand is how the DoD and the VA still are trying to understand the aftereffects of an mTBI, or mild Traumatic Brain Injury. A simple search of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) website yields a treasure trove of information and studies underway on this very topic. The NFL has been spending millions on this very thing.
The VA’s PTSD website also contains a wealth of information about PTS research. Here in Texas, we have The South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience (Strong STAR) program that I’ve personally gone through. Why isn’t this organization being tapped instead of spending money on studies and information already out there?
Look, I understand that caring for our troops after more than a decade of war is a top priority. I don’t deny that we aren’t exactly doing as much as we can to help troops suffering from these often-debilitating issues. Heck, we can’t even get most commanders to send their troops through a FREE resiliency program without pulling teeth in spite of the fact that statistics show a 35% decrease in administrative actions against troops what went through the Warrior Adventure Quest program compared to those that didn’t.
Honestly, the real problem is still a lack of command attention to those suffering from PTS and/or TBI. It takes a lot of time to heal these nearly-invisible wounds and commanders, unfortunately, seem to look at it as a training distraction in my opinion and experience. I’ve even had senior leaders tell me to my face they think PTS is “a crock.”
More than 15 percent of service members and Veterans suffer impaired functioning as a result of PTSD. The proposed research will study potential indicators of the trauma, as well as prevention strategies, possible interventions, and improved treatments. Biomarker-based researched will be a key factor for the studies.
Our military is about to take a major hit to the jaw with regard to our budget and we need to ensure that are able to leverage every single dollar. To spend $100 million on studies that are probably already out doesn’t seem like good stewardship of our taxpaying dollars. I don’t think it would take that much money to look into research that is already available.
I may be wrong and that has already taken place, but I highly doubt it. The Strong STAR program here in Texas is highly successful. I like to think I’m one of those success stories. My survivor’s guilt is almost completely mitigated as a result of going through the program. It helped me to finally cope with many of the most traumatic experiences from my combat action in Iraq in 2003.
Specific information on the research the DoD and VA is going to conduct, including the full description of each award, eligibility, and submission deadlines, and General Application Instructions, are posted on the Grants.gov and CDMRP websites (http://www.grants.gov and http://cdmrp.army.mil, respectively).