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Breckler Testifies Before Congress in Support of VA Funding

APA joined veterans groups in requesting an increase in the research account from its current level of $412 million (at which it has remained for several years) to $480 million in FY08.

By Heather O'Beirne Kelly

On March 21, 2007, APA's Executive Director for Science, Steve Breckler, testified before the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee. APA's testimony included requests for increased VA research funding, additional support for the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP), and adequate funding for mental health care within the VA system, particularly in regard to personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

"VA psychologists continue to be at the forefront of cutting-edge research on post-traumatic stress disorder, including the assessment and treatment of PTSD," said Breckler. "...Preventing and treating PTSD has become an even more important priority within the VA given the current conflicts overseas. VA psychologists are responsible for the development of the most widely respected and used diagnostic instruments and therapeutic techniques for assessing and treating PTSD. Psychological researchers and clinicians are also playing crucial roles in the assessment and treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury (or TBI) and polytrauma, which along with PTSD have unfortunately become signature injuries," concluded Breckler.

There appears to be strong, bipartisan support for veteran's issues within Congress, and the acting Chairman of the Subcommittee, Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), noted that he and his colleagues would continue their commitment to meeting the mental health needs of veterans. Farr was especially interested in treatment for PTSD and the Center for Deployment Psychology.

APA joined veterans groups in requesting an increase in the research account from its current level of $412 million (at which it has remained for several years) to $480 million in FY08. Veterans Affairs authorizing committees in both the House and Senate have signaled their support for this level of increase, and APA will continue to push for increased attention to research, training and care within the VA as the appropriations season gets underway.