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Severe traumatic brain injuries funding, help for VA sought

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Funding for long-term residential care for veterans with severe traumatic brain injuries lacks, according to one North Carolina congressman.

Rep. Dr. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., says Veterans Affairs has struggled to meet the demand and manage veterans’ conditions effectively.

“I’m working to secure resources to fund long-term residential care for veterans with severe TBIs,” Murphy said in a letter to constituents.

Murphy set up a survey to get responses, asking about improving the VA’s care for veterans with brain injuries.

A practicing urologist by trade, Murphy is bidding for a fourth term this November in the 3rd Congressional District. He’s a member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and its Health Subcommittee. He also has committee assignments on House Administration (Oversight Subcommittee); Ways and Means (two subcommittees, Health and Trade); and the Joint Committee on Printing.

According to the VA, traumatic brain injuries are “injuries to the head that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain.”

The agency administers a screening process and says that among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, exposure to explosions is common.

America’s deployments to Afghanistan lasted from 2001 to 2021, and to Iraq lasted from 2003 to 2011.

Veterans are encouraged to be screened by the VA if they were in close proximity to a blast or explosion; had a fragment wound or bullet wound above the shoulder; a blow to the head; a vehicle accident or crash; or had a fall.

The VA says immediately after an incident, symptoms include dizziness; confusion; “seeing stars”; no memory of the incident; and a “loss of consciousness or feeling ‘knocked out.’” Later symptoms can be persistent headache or neck pain; sensitivity to light or noise, and blurred vision; balance issues; tiredness, lack of energy; ringing in the ears; chronic depression, anxiety, apathy; slowness in thinking, speaking and reading; and problems with concentration, or organizing daily tasks.

Murphy’s work this year for veterans has included bipartisan efforts with Rep. Deborah Ross, D-N.C., on legislation involving Camp Lejeune; and with Rep. Don Davis, D-N.C., on legislation involving heroin overdose prevention.