The White House has launched a media blitz touting a collaboration between the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and large university and medical research centers to help veterans suffering the “invisible” signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The “national research action plan” includes two new research consortia that DoD and VA will give $107 million to in order to expand research and treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
It’s a commendable effort, with specific goals to be met as quickly as within six months and as far out as four years.
Sounds like proper urgency, until you consider that President Obama announced this initiative almost a full year ago. Yes, that’s how long it has taken for DoD and VA to get organized and award contracts for the research consortia.
This is all too reflective of the snail’s pace at which the government has responded to the growing PTSD and TBI caseloads, which will likely dominate VA health care for years to come.
The challenges posed by the rising tide of mental health issues among post-9/11 veterans — caused by the stress of the near-constant threat in these asymmetrical conflicts, as well as the enemy’s use of roadside bombs — has been recognized for at least five or six years now, if not longer.
Announcing plans and issuing press releases is easy. The hard work lies in turning such plans into reality.
The White House must closely monitor this initiative and apply pressure when and where needed to keep it firmly on track and expeditiously moving forward.
Our nation’s combat veterans deserve no less.