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Caring for wounded veterans with traumatic brain injury

One in five service members will return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from some form of traumatic brain injury. Many require not only significant medical care, but also constant supervision. This can be an untold burden on family members who care for them.

In 2009, Senator Daniel Akaka, a Democrat and World War II veteran, introduced a bill to provide services for the caregivers of severely wounded vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. A designated caregiver would get training, medical care and ongoing supportive services like counseling, paid time off and a living stipend of about $10 an hour. After a year of heated debate over the bill’s nearly $2 billion price tag, Congress passed the legislation in April of last year, and in May, the president signed it into law.

The program was supposed to begin by the end of January. But the families are still waiting, and the number of caregivers who ultimately get help is likely to be smaller than the president and Congress expected.  We asked Need to Know correspondent Maria Hinojosa to investigate.

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