FY2018 VSO/MSO Independent Budget Recommends VRP Funding at $15 Million

FY2018 VSO/MSO Independent Budget Recommends VRP Funding at $15 Million

Legislative Update
February 9, 2017

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 issue of the 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 Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and Military Service Organizations (MSOs), including NAEVR—has once again called for dedicated funding for vision trauma research at the Department of Defense (DOD).

A link to the full report can be found here.

The 30th annual edition of the IB recommends that Congress fund the DOD’s Peer-Reviewed Vision Research Program (VRP) at $15 million—the same level as proposed by the House of Representatives in its FY2017 Defense Appropriations bill and $5 million greater than the $10 million annual funding in each of the four prior years—to address combat eye injuries. This recommendation supports NAEVR’s request for this dedicated extramural research funding into deployment-related eye injuries and immediate battlefield needs. Supporting its recommendation, the IB cites NAEVR’s Cost of Military Eye Injury and Blindness study, released in 2012, which concluded from data published from 2000-2010 on combat-related eye injuries that the total projected cost to the economy is $25.1 billion, including the present value of future costs such as VA and Social Security benefits, lost or decreased wages, and additional family care.

Because Congress was unable to finalize FY2017 Defense appropriations before the start of the fiscal year on October 1, 2016, the DOD has been operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) which runs through April 28, 2017. This delay has meant that the DOD agency that manages defense health research programs—the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP)—has been unable to finalize work on an FY2017 Program Announcement for release to the research community which provides grant-funding opportunities.

NAEVR has coordinated its support for DOD research programs with the Defense Health Consortium (DHC), an ad hoc group of more than 60 organizations that advocate for the range of medical programs conducted within DOD that address medical conditions faced by service members and their families. NAEVR was a signatory on a DHC letter to Congressional leaders of both the House and Senate asking that Congress finalize FY2017 DOD appropriations, citing the negative implications of a continued delay in funding these programs.