VA and DoD Leaders Discuss Military Eye Trauma
James Peake, MD, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and S. Ward Casscells, MD, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Defense, were featured presenters at a meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in April, 2008. They discussed how their respective departments are collaborating to improve care for military personnel who suffer serious eye injuries while serving on active duty.
Peake and Casscells agreed that improved communication between the two departments is the key to better health care in the military. Both described improvements to communication expected via a "Center of Excellence" included in the Academy-backed Military Eye Trauma Treatment Act President Bush signed into law in January, 2008. The Center will include a military eye injury registry but it has not yet been funded.
In a hearing called by the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in early April, 2008, Congress heard testimony from Iraq veterans who said the government should do more to help soldiers suffering with visual dysfunction related to traumatic brain injuries (TBI). As part of his testimony, Thomas Zampieri, director of government relations for the Blinded Veterans Association, urged Congress to immediately fund the center of excellence and provide additional resources to the Defense Department's peer-reviewed medical research program. Much remains to be learned about the long-term visual consequences of mild to moderate TBI.