Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Legion Declares PTSD Oxygen Therapy As No. 1 Legislative Priority
State American Legion Legislative Chairman Harvey McCagg looked out on the room full of legionnaires and Legion Family members and declared:
“Our number one legislative priority” for New York State is “to establish and fund” a hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) program to treat post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Pointing to over 300,000 military veterans returning from combat with PTSD/mTBI and a veteran suicide rate described as epidemic, he said HBOT’s apparent success indicates it “could be the single most effective treatment” for giving afllicted vets their lives back and for curbing the suicide epidemic.
His briefing on March 2 came on the eve of the Legion’s annual Hill Day, where members of the Legion, Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion take the Legion’s legislative priorities directly to their legislators in the Assembly and Senate.
At the legislative breakfast March 3 with leaders of the Senate and Assembly veterans affairs committees and other legislators, McCagg urged the State Legislature “to create and fund a Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Biological Repair Treatment and Recovery Law.”
He said the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration (VA) medical establishments refuse to provide all known effective treatments, including one of the most promising – HBOT – which has been internationally recognized as a viable treatment for mild TBI and PTSD at an overall lower cost than a lifetime of unproven prescription drugs.
Traditionally they have been treated as psychiatric disorders, but growing evidence suggests mild TBI and PTSD may be the result of multiple concussive exposures and should therefore be treated as medical conditions – which may be healed by providing extra oxygen to the brain.
He noted: “Successful treatment of mild TBI and PTSD would significantly reduce suicide, homelessness, unemployment, family disruption, and its economic loss among veterans carrying those unseen scars of war. Returning afflicted veterans to productive tax-paying citizens and reducing their dependency on social services is a win-win result for all New Yorkers.” He added that the Legion believes that “all avenues of treatment should be explored” and that HBOT should be incorporated with a counseling and rehabilitation program.
McCagg briefed legislators on two other priority issues:
— Establishing State Veterans Cemeteries in areas not adequately served by national or local veterans cemeteries.
— Requiring school districts to offer a veterans tax exemption on their primary residence.
Several legislative and state leaders offered words of support for veterans, including:
— Sen. Thomas D. Croci, chairman of the Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee;
— Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., ranking member of that committee;
— Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, former chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee;
— Assemblyman Steve Hawley, ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee;
— Eric Hesse, director of the state Division of Veterans Affairs.