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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                      

September 30, 2008

For More Information, Contact:

Sarah Mason at (916) 651-4011

Hema Sareen Mohan at (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO – Governor Schwarzenegger today signed legislation creating outreach programs for veterans to learn about and seek treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Senate Bill 1401, authored by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), ensures that service men and women returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are aware of the causes, symptoms, impacts and treatment options for these injuries.

“I am gratified by the Governor’s signature.  The growing number of veterans suffering some level of traumatic brain injury is a new challenge,” said Simitian. “It’s a challenge for our vets, and it’s a challenge for our healthcare system.  SB 1401 is about making sure these vets get the treatment they need and are entitled to.  Given what these folks have been through, it’s the least we can do.”

Traumatic brain injury is often referred to as the ‘signature injury’ of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The military estimates that approximately one in five surviving service members suffers a traumatic brain injury, most commonly caused by the concussion from an improvised explosive device (IED).  Troops who sustain this type of injury face a wide range of side effects including memory loss, concentration or attention problems, slowed learning, depression, anxiety, aggression and thoughts of suicide.  Traumatic brain injury directly contributes to post traumatic stress disorder and both conditions only worsen with time.

Through SB 1401, the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CDVA) and the California National Guard will develop and implement programs to reach out to all veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The programs will ensure that troops know they should be screened, and that screening is readily available.   

“Traumatic Brain Injury is a wound that most people don’t see and many times the veteran isn’t really aware of it, but it can be just as devastating as any other wound,” said California Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Tom Johnson.  “This legislation will go a long way toward ensuring veterans receive the treatment and services they have earned.”

SB 1401 is one of the winning entries in Simitian’s annual “There Oughta Be A Law” contest.  Dr. Jerome V. Blum of Los Altos Hills, a former Navy doctor, wants to prevent this generation of returning veterans from the same mental illness, drug abuse and suicide rates that became so common among Vietnam veterans.  He believes that early diagnosis of TBI is critical to avoid lingering effects of the condition –– effects on service men and women, their families, and society as a whole.

Blum traveled to the State Capitol earlier this year to testify on behalf of the bill in front of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.  Calling it one of the greatest days in his life, Blum said he was “gratified” by the Legislature’s unanimous approval of the bill.  “These vets are performing a service for our country and we should all be asking what we can do to help them,” he added.

Simitian’s SB 1401 was one of a pair of bills that Governor Schwarzenegger signed today to support veterans’ health. 

“I know I speak for all Californians when I say the state has tremendous respect for its veterans and the sacrifices they have made for our freedom - and the bills I have signed demonstrate California’s commitment to our veterans, active duty personnel and the families who support them,” said Governor Schwarzenegger.

To learn more about SB 1401, please visit