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Witness Testimony of Hon. Timothy J. Walz, a Representative in Congress from the State of Minnesota

Chairman Michaud, Ranking Member Brown, thank you for holding this legislative hearing. 

I’m here today to talk about H.R. 6123, the Veterans’ Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitative Services Improvements Act. 

In short, this bi-partisan bill does two things:

  • First, it would clarify that VA rehab services are not limited to those provided by a health professional but would cover other VA services or supports that contribute to maximizing independence and quality of life.
  • Second, it would clarify that current provisions for TBI care are to be read more broadly, not simply to improve lost functioning but to prevent losing the gains that have been achieved.

Because of ambiguities in current law, TBI treatment at the VA narrowly focuses TBI care on physical restoration only.

When a veteran suffering from TBI comes to the VA for treatment, they need to be presented with a comprehensive approach to rehabilitation that will allow them to recover function, achieve independence and fully integrate back into their communities.

This bill ensures we provide comprehensive care instead of just physical rehabilitation, which is what is presently available to our injured veterans, without creating any new programs within the VA.  It simply uses the programs that are already present at the VA to build a more complete rehab program. 

Our wounded warriors deserve the best care and support we can give them, and this bill ensures that the VA uses all the tools at its disposal to care for those heroes that have “borne the battle.” 

That’s why this bill has the full support of the Wounded Warrior Project, the Disabled American Veterans, Blinded Veterans Association, and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Ralph Ibson and Christine Hill of the Wounded Warrior Project for their work on this bill.  Without their dedication and the dedication of countless veterans’ advocates around the country, we wouldn’t be where we are today. 

I’d also like to thank Representatives Bilirakis, Miller, and Pascrell for your support and leadership on this issue. 

Thank you again, and I yield the remainder of my time.