NASHIA: Washington Weekly!

This Washington Weekly! update was prepared by:  Susan L. Vaughn, Director of Public Policy for The National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA).   NASHIA assists State government in promoting partnerships and building systmes to meet the needs of individuals with brain injuries and their families.  

Administration News:
First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Efforts by Academic Institutions to Combat TBI:  On Wed., as part of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) committed to creating a new generation of doctors, medical schools, and research facilities that will make sure our heroes and their families receive the care worthy of their sacrifice.  Recognizing veterans, service members and their families’ dedication and commitment, 130 schools associated with the AAMC and AACOM pledged to leverage their missions in education, research, and clinical care to train the nation’s physicians to meet the unique health care needs of the military and veterans communities. 


Together, the AAMC and AACOM are committing to improve the education in their medical schools, the research in their laboratories, and the clinical care in their hospitals to better address the health issues that military families face.  Specifically, these organizations are committing to: 
·        Train their medical students as well as their current physicians, faculty, and staff to better diagnose and treat our veterans and military families;
·        Develop new research and clinical trials on PTSD and TBI so that we can better understand and treat those conditions;
·        Share their information and best practices with one another through a collaborative web forum created by the AAMC; and
·        Continue to work with the VA and the Department of Defense to make sure that everyone is providing the best care available.  

Examples of universities stepping up to provide for veterans and their families include:
·        VirginiaCommonwealth University where they’re leading a groundbreaking project to provide resources and training to health care providers, volunteers, and community members throughout Virginia who can help ease the transition home for veterans with TBI and PTSD.
·        The University of Pittsburgh where researchers are developing a new imaging tool that allows the visualization of the wiring of the brain in vivid high definition, which could lead to new breakthroughs in the diagnosis of TBI.
·        The University of South Florida where they are working with the Department of Defense and the VA to create a first-of-its-kind Center for Veterans Reintegration, which will mean a single, cohesive research, treatment, and education facility for veterans and families.  

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden created Joining Forces to bring Americans together to recognize, honor and take action to support veterans and military families as they serve our country and throughout their lives. The initiative aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of society to ensure veterans and military families have the support they have earned. The initiative focuses on key priority areas – employment, education, and wellness while raising awareness about the service, sacrifice, and needs of America’s veterans and military families. More information is available at: To see the announcement and the 130 universities and colleges participating in this program go to: 

SSA Improves Outreach to Beneficiaries on Ticket to Work Program:  Bob Williams, Associate Commissioner for the Social Security Administration, has announced that SSA is improving and expanding on the ways to let beneficiaries know why they should strongly consider taking advantage of the Ticket to Work (Ticket) program and all of the agency’s employment support programs. The services and supports SSA funds through State Vocational agencies, Employment Networks, Work Incentive Planning and Protection and Advocacy programs are supporting thousands of Americans with disabilities prepare for careers, become and stay employed, increase their earnings, work their ways off benefits and create better lives and futures as a result. 

On January 12, 2012, SSA published an interim final regulation in the Federal Register announcing steps SSA will take to let beneficiaries know about the Ticket and other employment support programs.  In the past, only one letter was sent explaining the Ticket program to beneficiaries, which they received soon after they started to receive disability benefits.  This practice has proven largely ineffective, inefficient and costly.  Therefore, SSA has stopped mailing a paper Ticket to eligible beneficiaries, and in its place, the agency began a coordinated Ticket program outreach strategy.  The rules make it clear that a beneficiary does not need a paper ticket to participate in the program.  To see the rules go to: ( 

SSA is also making improvements to the Choose Work website and expanding outreach through social media on Facebook and Twitter, among other sites.  In addition, SSA is finalizing a new fact sheet to explain the Ticket program and work incentives to individuals who visit their local Social Security field office to apply for disability benefits.

SSA believes taking these steps will allow the program to make a more efficient use of Social Security resources, while more effectively providing information and support for beneficiaries who are interested in becoming employed, increasing their earnings and bettering their futures.  SSA welcomes suggestions and feedback on SSA’s outreach and marketing efforts.  Please send your ideas to Jenn Rigger at



Military Study Aims to Aid Troops with Mild TBIA team of experts at San Antonio Military Medical Center has launched a military study aimed at improving outcomes for service members suffering from a TBI.  Douglas B. Cooper, a clinical neuropsychologist for the San Antonio Military Medical Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury Service, is the team lead on the Study of Cognitive Rehabilitation Effectiveness, dubbed the SCORE trial, which is examining cognitive rehabilitation therapy’s value as a treatment for service members with mild TBI.

The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments teamed up on this study to determine the best treatment for combat troops who are experiencing mild TBI symptoms — such as difficulties with attention, concentration, memory and judgment — three to 24 months post-injury.

The trial’s aim is to determine if cognitive rehabilitation therapy improves chronic mild TBI symptoms and, if so, which interventions work best, on whom and why. If the SCORE trial proves successful — meaning it proves cognitive rehabilitation’s efficacy — the goal is to determine which interventions are the most effective and then disseminate that information to VA and DoD centers. 



FICEMS Releases 2011 National EMS Assessment:  At the end of December the Federal Interagency Committee for Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS) released the 2011 National EMS Assessment, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).   The report provides the first ever comprehensive description of emergency medical services, EMS emergency preparedness and 911 systems at State and national levels using existing data sources.  Because the report is both detailed and comprehensive, it allows States, Territories and regions the ability to identify areas where systems may not be as comprehensive as desired, and provides system leaders the information needed to leverage more resources.  To review the report go to:




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