Minister for Defence to Visit US for Medical Research & Techniques in Rehabilitation & Support for Australian Wounded Soldiers

Canberra, Australia ( March 08, 2011

Australian Wounded Soldiers 640x480 Minister for Defence to Visit US for Medical Research & Techniques in Rehabilitation & Support for Australian Wounded Soldiers

Minister for Defence to Visit US for Medical Research & Techniques in Rehabilitation & Support for Australian Wounded Soldiers

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, will visit the United States of America this week to examine best practice medical research and techniques in rehabilitation and support for Australia’s wounded soldiers.

“The Australian Government is committed to providing the best support available to our wounded troops and, through innovative research and continued collaboration with other countries, we will go a long way in achieving this,” Mr Snowdon said.

Mr Snowdon will visit several institutions in Washington DC and New York that are undertaking world-leading research into the health effects of war trauma, including the physical and mental rehabilitation of service personnel and the transition from the services to civilian life.

“Despite Australia and the United States having a different military experience, and often serving in different roles and locations, we still have a lot to share in our efforts to better understand the impacts of war on our service personnel,” Mr Snowdon said.

As part of his visit, the Minister will meet with the United States Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs, the Honorable Erik K. Shinseki, to launch a joint collaborative research project into the health effects of recent conflicts on military personnel.

Mr Snowdon will also visit the:

- National Naval Medical Center, world renowned for its history of providing care to US Defence personnel in Washington DC;

- Washington DC Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center, a leading facility which treats more than 50,000 veterans each year and has an active research program;

- New York Harbor Vets Center in New York; and

- Defense Advanced Research Project Agency in Washington DC to gain an understanding of the great strides they are making with prosthetic limbs for wounded military personnel.

Mr Snowdon said the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency has a prosthetics program that aims to build a realistic prosthetic arm-hand combination that allows the wearer to control it naturally by using the brain.

“This will restore a level of independence to amputees and patients with spinal cord injuries. I believe we owe it to our injured personnel to investigate all options for rehabilitation and such advanced technology would contribute significantly to their recovery,” Mr Snowdon said.

To look at continuing Australian research, Mr Snowdon will meet with the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy, Ms Virginia Penrod, on the Support to Wounded, Injured or Ill Project (SWIIP).

“This project is a joint effort between the Australian departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Defence, and is developing a whole-of-life framework for the care of wounded, injured or ill Australian Defence Force members.

“It will enhance support for members with complex or serious medical conditions transitioning to civilian life; improve information sharing between DVA and Defence relating to injury or illness, with plans to streamline and simplify compensation claims handling; and simplify processes involved in applying for, and acceptance of liability for compensation,” Mr Snowdon said.

“I want to ensure that any lessons learnt from the US experience can be used to strengthen our programs for ADF personnel who are wounded, injured or ill,” he said.

While in the US, Mr Snowdon will take the opportunity to honour the service and sacrifice of Australian and American troops lost in wars and conflicts. He will visit the Lincoln Memorial to make an announcement on a joint project that will educate another generation about the Vietnam War, and visit the Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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