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NAEVR Advocates with BVA for Vision Trauma Research Funding

Legislative Update
February 24, 2015

From left: Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) National Vice President Dale Stamper, Board Member Tom Zampieri, Ph.D., and Executive Director Al Avina with NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky
From left: Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) National Vice President Dale Stamper, Board Member Tom Zampieri, Ph.D., and Executive Director Al Avina with NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky
During the Blinded Veterans Association’s (BVA) Legislative Week 2015, NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky joined its leadership in February 24 meetings with Senate offices. The delegation included National Vice President Dale Stamper and his wife Cora, Executive Director Al Avina, and Board Member Tom Zampieri, Ph.D. That same day, BVA President Mark Cornell was accompanied by Director of Government Relations Glenn Minney in visiting House offices.

BVA requested Congressional support for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 funding of $15 million for the Vision Research Program (VRP) in Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations-one of the top three requests it made that day in visits to offices of Senators who serve on the Defense and the Military Construction/Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA) Appropriations Subcommittees. Since Mr. Stamper is from Idaho, the delegation also visited the officers of Senators Crapo and Risch.

The delegation’s supporting materials included:

  • A February 6 BVA letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, respectively, requesting FY2016 VRP funding at $15 million. The letter was signed by eleven Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and Military Service Organizations (MSOs) in addition to BVA, which combined represent over 5 million veterans.

  • NAEVR’s Legislative Request for this extramural funding for research into deployment-related vision trauma which is not conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, elsewhere within the DOD, or at the National Eye Institute (NEI). NAEVR reports that projects funded in the first two VRP cycles have resulted in 80 published papers that are advancing knowledge about the diagnosis and treatment of eye trauma injuries and presents examples of new technologies developed for battlefield application.
“Staff were most interested in battlefield technologies that have emerged from the VRP investment, especially the hand-held device to analyze the pupil’s reaction to light, enabling rapid diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)-related visual dysfunction, as well as an ‘ocular patch’ that seals lacerations and perforations, protecting the eye while a soldier is transported to a medical facility with trained ocular surgeons,” observed Mr. Jorkasky. “In these conversations, Mr. Stamper added that, if these technologies had been available when he was wounded in Vietnam, he may have been able to maintain his vision.”

Since the VRP was created and funded by Congress in FY2009, it has awarded 60 grants totaling $45 million to researchers addressing penetrating eye injuries, corneal healing, retinal/corneal protection, TBI-related visual dysfunction, the eye blast phenomenon, and vision rehabilitation. NAEVR’s 2012 study entitled Costs of Military Eye Injury reported that, based on published data from years 2000-2010, the total incident cost of eye injury each year has been $2.28 billion, yielding a total cost to the economy over this timeframe of $25.10 billion-primarily reflecting the present value of future Social Security benefits, lost wages and family care.

Adam Goodwin, office of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a Defense appropriations Subcommittee member, with Mr. Stamper
Adam Goodwin, office of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a Defense appropriations Subcommittee member, with Mr. Stamper
Dr. Zampieri with Sierra Forbes-Robinson from the office of Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Dr. Zampieri with Sierra Forbes-Robinson from the office of Senator
Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Dr. Zampieri, left, and Mr. Stamper, right, with Kyle Christian from the office of Senator Jerry Moran (D-KS), who serves on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
Dr. Zampieri, left, and Mr. Stamper, right, with Kyle Christian from the office of Senator Jerry Moran (D-KS), who serves on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
From left: Colleen Gaydos, from the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee (Majority staff) with Dr. Zampieri, Mr. Avina, Mr. Stamper and Cora Stamper
From left: Colleen Gaydos, from the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee (Majority staff) with Dr. Zampieri, Mr. Avina, Mr. Stamper and Cora Stamper
From left: Mr. Avina, Dr. Zampieri, Mr. Stamper and Cora Stamper with Chad Schulken (Minority staff)  and D’Ann Lettieri and Bob Henke (Majority staff) from the Senate MilCon/VA  Appropriations Subcommittee
From left: Mr. Avina, Dr. Zampieri, Mr. Stamper and Cora Stamper with Chad Schulken (Minority staff) and D’Ann Lettieri and Bob Henke (Majority staff) from the Senate MilCon/VA Appropriations Subcommittee