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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2012
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

VSOs SUPPORT INCREASED FUNDING FOR VISION TRAUMA RESEARCH IN THE INDEPENDENT BUDGET AND IN LETTER TO DEFENSE APPROPRIATORS

(Washington, D.C.) Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) have once again called for increased funding for vision trauma research in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations through the Independent Budget and a funding request letter.

The 26th annual edition of the Independent Budget—an annual set of recommendations to Congress regarding Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding, which is developed by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and supported by 59 other VSOs and Military Service Organizations (MSOs)-recommends that Congress provide $10 million in funding for the DOD’s Peer-Reviewed Vision Trauma Research Program (VTRP) to address combat eye injuries. This recommendation supports NAEVR’s request for this dedicated funding for extramural research into immediate battlefield needs. The Independent Budget also calls on the VA to maintain the current bed capacity and full staffing levels in its Blind Rehabilitation Service (BRS) centers.

The Independent Budget reports VA estimates of 46,000 enrolled Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans who have been diagnosed with eye conditions, while the joint DOD/VA Vision Center of Excellence estimates 58,000 eye injuries in its data. The VA also notes that upwards of 75 percent of the OEF/OIF veterans diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) experience short- or long-term visual dysfunction, including double vision, sensitivity to light, inability to read print, and other cognitive problems. The VA estimates this population to be about 200,000 veterans.

Concurrent with the Independent Budget release, the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) sent a letter to Congressional defense appropriators also requesting FY2013 VTRP funding at $10 million. BVA was joined by signatories Paralyzed Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart USA, Inc., Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, National Association of Uniformed Services, and Jewish War Veterans of the USA.

“NAEVR fully appreciates the efforts of the VSOs and MSOs in supporting its request for defense vision research funding, especially since we face a tough FY2013 budget cycle,” said NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky.

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a 501(c)4 non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 55 professional, consumer, and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. Visit the Web site at www.eyeresearch.org.