Agency Created to Help Brain-Damaged Vets Not Getting the Job Done
Thursday, July 14, 2011
The Department of Defense’s special program for brain injuries can’t seem to explain its purpose to congressional watchdogs, and that doesn’t bode well for the program’s future or for those it’s supposed to be helping: wounded war veterans.
According to Congress’s investigative wing, the Government Accountability Office, the Defense Centers for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCOE) was unable to define and justify its mission to GAO officials when they came calling for an audit.
“[DCOE was] not able to explain to us in any clarity what they’re about, what they intend to do in the future, how much it’s going to cost and what value will come out of that spending,” Denise Fantone, a GAO director who helped supervise the investigation, told NPR.
That’s bad news for soldiers returning from Afghanistan or Iraq who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other traumatic brain injuries, because DCOE is supposed to help the 44,000 service members dealing with these serious conditions.
Inability to justify one’s existence in the federal government could make it easier for lawmakers looking to trim expenditures to not allocate more money on something so dysfunctional and unproductive as DCOE.
Traumatic brain injuries range from mild to severe. Mild injuries are the equivalent of concussions, which have been known to end the careers of professional athletes. Severe injuries involve extended periods of unconsciousness and/or amnesia. A moderate injury can result in brief unconsciousness, vomiting, headaches that won’t go away and slurred speech.
-by Noel Brinkerhoff
Pentagon Center for Brain Injuries Failing Vets: GAO (by Kase Wickman, The Raw Story)
Defense Centers of Excellence: Limited Budget and Performance Information on the Center for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (Government Accountability Office) (pdf)
Military Health Care Rejects Brain-Damage Therapy for Wounded Troops (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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