Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America

JWV Demands Investigation into Move of Texas VA Brain Laboratory

June 2009

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA (JWV) demands an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the moving of a laboratory designed to study combat-related brain injuries from the University of Texas at Austin to the VA hospital in Waco, TX.

Prior to its move, the laboratory, which had been funded with great expectations of being able to provide the research that would enable returning soldiers with brain injuries to receive state-of-the-art treatment, had not tested a single veteran with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

JWV National Commander Ira Novoselsky has placed the highest priority for the JWV in seeing that those returning from our current conflicts receive the care and treatment they deserve, especially for the many victims of TBI and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). "The resources of the VA must be focused on finding treatments for brain injuries, which are seen at record rates in our returning veterans," said Commander Novoselsky. "It is of the utmost importance that an independent third-party investigates why these resources have been squandered over the past three years that this laboratory has been in existence."

According to the VA, the move to Waco will allow veterans easier access to VA hospitals in Waco and in Temple, TX, and will enable them to work with service members at Ft. Hood. In addition, the VA stresses that the move will allow researchers access to the world's most powerful research magnetic resonance (MRI) machine.

Unanswered are the questions raised by Dr. Robert W. Van Boven, a neurosurgeon who had been hired as program director at the lab in 2007, and who has complained about mismanagement of funds before his arrival. His claims have been at least "partially substantiated" by the VA Inspector General.

The move of this lab and the allegations surrounding its work must be investigated thoroughly. The health of so many returning veterans depends on the research that needs to be conducted there. Now that the move has occurred, the laboratory must realize its potential and provide answers for so many of our wounded veterans.

The JWV demands an investigation and will continue to monitor the work of the relocated laboratory.

The disclosure of the problems at this laboratory is the third incident in the last three months that has come to light regarding the VA health care program. A rogue cancer program at the VA hospital in Philadelphia and patients testing positive for HIV and hepatitis at three other VA hospitals around the country are all of great concern. The disclosure of these three major incidents in such a short time period is evidence that stricter oversight over the VA health system must be exercised by Congress and other agencies whose mandate is the welfare of our veterans.

 

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