Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, over 8 years since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are still not properly addressing traumatic brain injury, also known as the signature injury of both wars.
[Time: 13:00] I want to thank Chairman McKeon, Ranking Member Smith, all the chairmen of the subcommittees, as well as members of this committee who are moving forward on this issue. I wish we had the same compromise as we would have on other issues. I commend them for compromising. That's what our Forefathers talked about. I'm glad to see that the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Brain Injury will move oversight to the Army where there will be an increased efficiency and attention for our soldiers.
But there are still problems with screening and treating our troops. Recently, NPR ran an expose on how the Department of Defense has tested over 500,000 soldiers with a predeployment cognitive test, but has performed fewer than 3,000 tests postdeployment to actually compare the results and see if our troops were injured in theater.
The fiscal 2008 National Defense Authorization bill, bipartisanly supported, Public Law 110-181, required [Page: H8918] predeployment and postdeployment screenings of a soldier's cognitive ability. Current policy is clearly violating the intent of the law. We must ensure that the same tool is used for pre- and postdeployment cognitive screenings. We can't gauge the cognitive health of our troops without comparing tests. Last year, my amendment to the NDAA for fiscal year 2011 to address this passed the House, but was not in the final bill. We need to correct this in the next year's Defense authorization before any more soldiers slip through the cracks. It has consequences within service; and when they get out of service, it has bigger consequences.
The Defense Department has raised concerns with the currently administered test, but has stated that it will not be able to select an alternative until 2015. That is not acceptable. The longer we wait, the longer our troops suffering from undiagnosed TBIs go untreated.
I am concerned that we are not providing proper oversight for those soldiers who could have been injured in theater before this policy took effect in 2010. Many of these soldiers remain on active duty, and we must ensure that they are tested and treated.
I fear we are doing a disservice to them and our Armed Forces by not addressing this problem in this bill, and I ask everyone to consider this. This is a critical, critical issue given little attention except by Mr. McKeon and Mr. Smith.
I ask that you do review that.