by Paul Gross, HA Chairman of the Board of Directors

robert andrewsYesterday, hydrocephalus was a hot topic in Congress during the debate over the annual defense spending bill. Experts believe that two-thirds of our current and former military service members suffering from moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries are at risk of developing hydrocephalus – more than 24,000 potential cases, based on the latest information available. Hundreds more could develop hydrocephalus as a result of their injuries, but without the proper screening, their hydrocephalus could go undetected.

During yesterday’s debate, Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee who recently wrote to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta regarding the incidence of hydrocephalus in the military, presented the difficulties these veterans will face to the highest ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, Norm Dicks (D-WA). This dialogue greatly aided by our combined efforts on advocacy day on June 28, 2012.

(If you are using Firefox to view this, please follow this link to read the transcript of this colloquy)

“Veterans living with this condition will face a lifetime of medical uncertainties and incur costly brain surgeries unless a better treatment is found,” Andrews explained on the House floor. “Would the gentleman be willing to work with me to help gain a better understanding of the incidence and cost of hydrocephalus among our injured service members and veterans so we can focus the appropriate amount of DoD research dollars on finding a better treatment?”

Rep. Dicks responded favorably, pledging to work with Rep. Andrews to gain a better understanding of the issues.