VSOs/MSOs Send Letter to Congressional Appropriations Leaders Supporting FY2021 DOD VRP Funding Request

On March 9, NAEVR member organization Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) submitted a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees which requests that Congress fund the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Vision Research Program (VRP) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 at a level of $30 million.

The letter—which supports NAEVR’s legislative request—was signed by 25 other Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and Military Service Organizations (MSOs), including United Kingdom-based  Blind Veterans UK. It cites AEVR’s 2018 study, published by the journal Military Medicine in its May/June 2019 issue, which estimated that deployment-related eye injuries and blindness have cost the U.S. $41.5 billion in that timeframe, with $40.2 billion of that cost reflecting present value of a lifetime of long-term benefits, lost wages, and family care.

The VRP was funded at $20 million in FY2019 and FY2020. Since it was created in FY2009 by Congress through NAEVR advocacy, the VRP has awarded 96 grants totaling $98 million to researchers addressing penetrating eye injuries, corneal healing, retinal/corneal protection, TBI-related visual dysfunction, eye blast phenomenon, and vision rehabilitation—all areas addressing DOD-identified research gaps. The VRP is currently evaluating projects submitted to the FY2019 funding cycle and will be issuing a Program Announcement for the FY2020 cycle this summer.