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Hill Letters Request Vision Trauma Research Funding at $15 M in FY2017, Support for Defense Health Programs in Defense Appropriations

On March 16, NAEVR member Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) released a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of each the Appropriations Committee of the House and Senate requesting $15 million in funding for the Peer Reviewed Vision Research Program (VRP) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations. The VRP has been funded at $10 in each of fiscal years 2013-2016. Since it was created in FY2009 by Congress through NAEVR advocacy, the VRP has awarded $56 million in awards to 71 researchers.

The letter—which supports NAEVR’s legislative request—was signed by nine 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, the National Association of Uniformed Services, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Military Officers Association of America.

From left:  BVA Board Member Tom Zampieri, Ph.D., Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), First Sergeant (Ret.) Daniel Wallace (BVA Operation Peer Support Committee Chair), and ARVO President John Clark, Ph.D. (University of Washington) delivering the VSO/MSO-signed VRP request letter
From left: BVA Board Member Tom Zampieri, Ph.D., Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), First Sergeant (Ret.) Daniel Wallace (BVA Operation Peer Support Committee Chair), and ARVO President John Clark, Ph.D. (University of Washington) delivering the VSO/MSO-signed VRP request letter
On March 16 and 17, and in conjunction with AEVR’s Deployment-Related Vision Trauma Research Congressional Briefing, BVA Board Member Tom Zampieri, Ph.D. was joined by First Sergeant (Ret.) Daniel Wallace, Chair of BVA’s Operation Peer Support Committee and a Missouri resident, and ARVO President John Clark, Ph.D. (University of Washington) in personally distributing the letter to key offices, including those of Defense appropriator Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). First Sergeant Wallace lost his vision in Iraq in 2003 as a result of a suicide car bomb. NAEVR joined several of the visits.

Regarding Congressional support for Defense Health Programs funded in DOD appropriations, NAEVR was a signatory on an April 4 letter from the Defense Health Research Consortium—signed by 76 advocacy organizations—which requested funding for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), the agency which manages many DOD research programs including the VRP. While the letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of each the Defense Appropriation Subcommittee of the House and Senate did not mention support for any specific DOD research program by name, an attached white paper listed a number of research areas supported by the CDMRP, including Vision, taken directly from NAEVR’s legislative request.