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VSOs/MSOs Send Letter to Congressional Appropriations Leaders Supporting FY2018 DOD VRP Funding Request

Legislative Update
March 9, 2017

On March 6, NAEVR member organization Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) submitted a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of each the House and Senate Appropriations Committee which requests that Congress fund the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Vision Research Program (VRP) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 at a level of $15 million, the same level that Congress funded the program in the yet-to-be finalized FY2017 appropriations bill.

The letter—which supports NAEVR’s legislative request—was signed by nine other Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and Military Service Organizations (MSOs), in addition to BVA, including: Paralyzed Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart USA, Inc., Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Veterans Health Council, the American Council of the Blind, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Military Officers Association of America.

In February, the FY2018 Independent Budget (IB)—a biennial set of recommendations to Congress regarding Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding which is developed by Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars and supported by 27 other VSOs and MSOs, including NAEVR—also called for FY2018 VRP funding at $15 million.

The VRP was funded at $10 million in each of fiscal years 2013-2016. Since it was created in FY2009 by Congress through NAEVR advocacy, the VRP has awarded $62.8 million in awards to 74 researchers, and the VRP is currently finalizing the remaining awards from the FY2016 funding cycle.

Although the VRP is precluded from issuing a FY2017 Program Announcement due to the delay in finalizing FY2017 appropriations for the DOD, the program last month released a pre-announcement which details which funding mechanisms that will be used for this year’s program. As in the FY2015-16 funding cycle, the program will be funding Clinical Trial Awards and Technology/Therapeutic Development Awards.