Congressman Edwards secures $2.7 million for joint Waco VA-Fort Hood PTSD research program as final defense bill passes House

November 9, 2007

(WASHINGTON D.C.) — U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards announced Nov. 9 that he has secured $2.7 million for a joint Waco VA-Ft. Hood- Hospital research program that will examine the underlying causes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The funding was included at Edwards’ request under the final 2008 Defense Appropriations bill, which was passed by the House. Edwards created the program with $3 million he secured in the 2006 defense healthcare bill.

“This groundbreaking research project is an important part of realizing our goal of making the Waco VA a world-class PTSD and mental health care research center, and it is one of the few programs in the country focusing on the links between genes and brain anatomy in the development of PTSD and mental illness in our combat soldiers. With so many soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious mental health care issues, this research could not be more important and more timely,” said Edwards, chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee.

“I am going to pursue this goal passionately, because it will improve the lives of thousands of troops and veterans who have risked their lives for our nation.”

Dr. Keith A. Young, lead researcher on the project, said, “This is a tremendously exciting development. The additional funding will allow our VA, Texas A&M and Baylor researchers to expand our genetic analysis of troops and veterans, which is aimed at finding brain changes that make people susceptible or resilient to PTSD and depression.”

The Waco VA PTSD program will focus on whether genes and brain anatomy play a role in the root causes of PTSD and related stress disorders. Researchers will screen and follow 1,400 Fort Hood troops. The troops will be monitored for six months, starting in winter 2007.

“The Waco VA and Ft. Hood are uniquely positioned to conduct world-class research with the Department of Defense and Texas A&M and Baylor to find improved treatments and cures for veterans suffering from mental illness and post traumatic stress disorder,” said Edwards. “The close proximity of a military installation that has sent over 40,000 soldiers to Iraq and a VA hospital that is a nationally recognized center of excellence for veterans’ mental health care cannot be matched anywhere else in the country.”

“I am confident that we can continue to expand the mission of the Waco VA, and this PTSD research program is a key part of that effort,” said Edwards.

The final 2008 Defense bill is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the President later this month.

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