The Coalition to Heal Invisible Wounds: Progress on Veterans Health Advocacy

Increasing government funding and interest in PTSD and TBI research is imperative to accelerating diagnostics and treatments for veterans and all people who suffer the effects of trauma on the brain.

The Coalition to Heal Invisible Wounds is a collaboration of members committed to solving brain health issues important to veterans, including veterans advocacy groups, non-profit research foundations, and pharmaceutical companies. Only two medications are currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of PTSD, and none have been approved in the past 15 years. Though many companies are researching new treatments, to be successful these innovators need institutional support from groups like the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD).

With a shared passion for improving PTSD and TBI outcomes through advocacy, the Coalition educates Congress on the top brain health care concerns to shape how government research dollars and resources are allocated. In order to reduce the hurdles companies face when working with the VA and DoD, our Coalition is asking Congress to direct the VA and DoD to increase their research funding and support public-private partnerships.

In 2018, the Coalition’s advocacy efforts yielded many positive outcomes:

Catalyst for Change

The Coalition to Heal Invisible Wounds has brought a proactive VA research reform agenda to Congress. The Coalition is urging Congress to boost the VA’s capacity to support new diagnostics and treatments for PTSD and TBI, and has quickly positioned itself as a key stakeholder in this reform process. In May, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs invited the Coalition to submit written testimony for a hearing on VA research programs, allowing the Coalition to formally add our voice to the discussion.

Advancing Research

The Coalition has focused Congress on new concepts: how to catalyze diagnostics research, reduce roadblocks to starting clinical trials, and unlock the ability of the VA to form big data research partnerships. These changes are essential to moving the field of PTSD and TBI research forward; they will enable the VA to be a conduit for research innovation and ensure that the results of the research are meaningful to veterans.

Fostering Bipartisan Support

We have built bipartisan support for VA research reform in both the House and Senate. In hearings and letters, Representatives and Senators have pressed the VA to reform information security reviews, prioritize diagnostic research, and allow the use of commercial institutional review boards. These incremental advancements demonstrate that the Coalition is moving the conversation surrounding VA-sponsored research forward.

Commitment to Excellence

The Coalition is dedicated to building upon the expertise at the VA by collaborating and partnering on the most advanced research and development projects related to PTSD and TBI. Looking forward to 2019, the Coalition will continue to build on the reforms and advancements from the past year and guide the discussion towards improving veterans health.

About the Coalition to Heal Invisible Wounds

Established in 2017, the Coalition to Heal Invisible Wounds (Coalition), brings together leading non-profit organizations to advance a comprehensive research-focused advocacy agenda that addresses the invisible wounds of war and other significant comorbid conditions known to contribute to the suicide epidemic among Veterans and service members. The Coalition advocates for reforms to how the federal government prioritizes, manages, and funds brain health research, focusing on four key priorities: developing high-quality brain trauma therapies for Veterans and service members, adopting collaborative research roadmaps to guide the science, increasing the body of evidence on emerging therapeutic solutions, and ensuring full implementation of important mental health legislation. Learn more here

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