The medical research program at the Department of Defense (DoD) has led to many significant discoveries including breakthroughs on nerve regeneration, and traumatic brain and spinal cord injury. Yet the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act contained language that would significantly jeopardize the program’s research, including arthritis research, by creating narrowly defined funding eligibility criteria.
This is especially important to us because arthritis affects 1 in 3 members of the US Military (as compared to 1 in 5 in the general population). It is the leading cause of disability discharge among military personnel and the second most common reason soldiers are medically discharged from the U.S. Army. The DoD’s arthritis research could have been significantly affected by the new funding criteria.
Realizing the importance of the DoD’s research program, not just for members of the US Military, but also for breakthroughs that could help all people, the Arthritis Foundation, along with 142 other organizations, signed a letter last week opposing these provisions and urging Armed Services Committee Chair, John McCain (R-AZ), and Ranking Member, Jack Reed (D-RI), to support amendments that would strike this language from the bill.
We also mobilized our Advocates, sending a call-to-action asking them to contact their Senators and urge them to support an amendment, proposed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), that would ensure the DoD research program remains intact. More than 700 Advocates sent letters and participated in a related social media campaign using the hashtag #ResearchNotRedTape.
The Durbin amendment was co-sponsored by 37 Senators and, earlier this week, passed by a vote of 66 to 32.
We send heartfelt congratulations to our Advocates for a job well done, and thanks to the senators who co-sponsored and voted for passage of the amendment. We appreciate your participation and support!
With passage of the Durbin amendment, we continue to work with Congress in establishing a dedicated DoD arthritis research program. You can help by contacting your Senators and telling them it’s time to protect our protectors.
For more information about our advocacy program, or to sign up to become an advocate for people with arthritis, visit our website.