From: The Honorable Matt Cartwright
Sent By:
Josh.Stephani@mail.house.gov

Bill: H.R. 1904
Date: 6/20/2016

Join the Bipartisan, Bicameral Effort to Support Our Wounded Warriors

Through Research, Training, and Education in the Orthotics and Prosthetics (O&P) Field

Cosponsor H.R. 1904 – The
Wounded Warrior Workforce Enhancement Act & H.R. 1905 – The Wounded Warrior Research Enhancement Act

Cosponsors 114th Congress H.R. 1904 (24): Cohen, Dingell, Gallego,
C. Gibson, Grijalva, Guthrie, Hastings, Honda, Jones, Kaptur, Kelly, Levin, Lowenthal, McDermott, McGovern, Norcross, Norton, Pocan, Rangel, Ruiz, Rush,
Stefanik, Titus, Walker

Cosponsors 114th Congress H.R. 1905 (24):  Beyer, Cohen, Dingell,
Dold, Fortenberry, Gallego, C. Gibson, Guthrie, Hastings, Honda,
Jones, Kaptur, Levin, Lowenthal, McDermott, McGovern, Norcross, Norton, Pocan, Rangel, Ruiz, Rush,
Stefanik, Walker

Dear Colleague,

This past year marked the 7th anniversary of the Wounded Warrior Act of 2008 being signed into law by the President.  The Wounded Warrior Act makes needed improvements to the quality and availability of health care services for service members recovering
from serious injuries or illnesses related to their military service.  In light of their great sacrifice, I believe we owe our veterans a tremendous debt.  A debt we must repay not only with our sincerest thanks but with all the benefits they were promised,
as well as expanded access to care and support services where necessary.

In recognition of this occasion, I will be re-introducing legislation in the coming months designed to improve the treatment and availability of orthopedic and prosthetic medical care to our nation’s veterans.  Each year, the Department of Veterans Affairs
serves approximately 40,000 individuals with limb loss due to combat-related injuries or chronic illness.  Advances in medical technology have greatly increased the survival rate for even the most grievously wounded service members, but many of those survivors
still lose limbs due to their injuries.  In fact, over 1,700 individuals have suffered combat-related limb loss in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The field of orthotics and prosthetics (O&P) is at a critical tipping point in terms of the future viability of its workforce and the ability of those professionals to provide the best-tailored care to our nation’s service members and veterans.  After more
than ten years of war, the skill set required to provide state-of-the-art care has become increasingly complex – particularly in the field of O&P, where demand is at an all-time high.

While O&P technology has progressed by leaps and bounds in recent years, our ability to use that technology for the most effective care possible has not kept pace.  There are just over 7,100 practitioners specially trained in O&P nationwide.  Of those, one
in five is either past retirement age or eligible to retire in the next five years.  In twenty years’ time, almost half the field will retire – a projected 3,000 practitioners.

We need to act now.  That is why I will reintroduce the Wounded Warrior Research Enhancement Act
and the Wounded Warrior Workforce Enhancement Act in the coming months.  Originally introduced by Senator Durbin, these two bipartisan bills would enhance research in best practices and support colleges and universities seeking to
establish degree programs to train specialists.

Specifically, these bills would accomplish the following:

  • The Wounded Warrior Workforce Enhancement Act authorizes funding to help schools train more professionals and establishes a second VA Training Center of Excellence for O&P to develop and expand best practices for the next generation of
    faculty in the field. There are only a dozen schools around the country with master’s degree programs in this field. This legislation would help these schools expand and encourage other schools to upgrade their existing bachelor’s degree program to a master’s
    degree program.
  • The Wounded Warrior Research Enhancement Act establishes the first centralized collection of outcomes-based research on orthotics and prosthetics.Currently many practitioners rely on personal experience and trial-and-error methods, rather
    than empirical data, to determine which prosthetic device would work best for a given patient.With a large portion of these seasoned clinicians facing retirement in the coming decade, it is imperative that we harness this tremendous resource of institutional
    knowledge before we lose it forever.

Small investments like these will go far to ensure that this field will be healthy for many years to come, and ultimately ensure we honor our promise to America’s wounded warriors.  In an era of tight budgets and Washington looking at ways to spend dollars
wisely, improving the lives of our injured service members and veterans is a smart investment.

If you are interested in becoming a cosponsor of the Wounded Warrior Workforce Enhancement Act
and the Wounded Warrior Research Enhancement Act or if you have any questions, please contact Josh Stephani in my office at Josh.Stephani@mail.house.gov or at 202-225-5546.

 

Sincerely,

Matt Cartwright

Member of Congress