How California Plans to Help Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury
By Debbie Gregory.
Hundreds of thousands of military personnel have been diagnosed with some level of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the past decade, many as a result of combat injury. TBI can have long-term and often times severe effects on service members’ lives, affecting their ability to work, interact with others, manage basic living tasks, and even interact with their own families.
The California Legislature hopes that Senate Bill 197 will help restore the lives of the state’s military veterans suffering with TBI.
SB 197 would waive the California sales tax on building materials and supplies purchased for the construction of specified military and veteran medical facilities.
“SB 197 is about stretching charitable dollars farthest and adding additional medical care infrastructure at the lowest possible cost,” said Republican Senator Patricia Bates, one of the bill’s authors.
After the Senate’s recent unanimous approval, the last hurdle for the bill is for the Assembly Appropriations Committee to release it from the suspense file.
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, in collaboration with one of California’s top brain injury experts and a nationwide team of doctors and researchers has been working breakthrough treatments for TBI while building dedicated facilities on military bases to implement these revolutionary methods.
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund has paid for, built and donated to the Army the burn and prostheses facility at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, the Center for the Intrepid.
In 2008, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund partnered with Dr. David Hovda, director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center and 24 additional institutions doing brain research to take a new approach to TBI treatment.
The fund also paid for, built and donated a TBI and post-traumatic stress research center on the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center campus in Bethesda, Md., outside Washington.
In total, nine rehabilitation centers, called Intrepid Spirit Centers, will be built by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund on military bases. In May, IFHF and the Navy broke ground at Marine Corps Camp Pendleton on the seventh center.
SB 197 would waive the California sales tax on purchases made to build the Pendleton center. For state government, that cost is small, a little over $200,000 – less than what the state might spend on a veteran who, because of TBI-related drug abuse, did not have an honorable discharge, and so was denied VA benefits and on Medi-Cal and public assistance. But for a nonprofit in a race to save more service members, that small amount is huge.
When the Assembly Appropriations Committee moves SB 197 out of the suspense file and to the Assembly floor, the entire State Legislature will be able to demonstrate California’s gratitude to those who have given and sacrificed so much.
Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, and their families.