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It’s been five years since the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) released a report titled, “A National Trauma Care System: Integrating Military and Civilian Trauma Systems to Achieve Zero Preventable Deaths After Injury.”

Having led a model for military-civilian collaboration at the Army Trauma Training Center in Miami, Fla., I was invited to be a reviewer of this report. I appreciated the wisdom of focusing on military-civilian trauma collaboration to save more lives from injury — whether on the battlefield or at home.

Such structured collaboration:

  • Shares best practices for civilian and military injury care and prevention;
  • Preserves hard-won lessons of combat casualty care;
  • Improves civilian access to trauma care;
  • Sustains military trauma surgeon and team skills; and
  • Promotes national readiness, particularly in the reflection of COVID-19 recovery.

With three years of hard work in advocacy, the MISSION ZERO Act was signed into law in 2019 as part of (H.R. 269/S. 1379), the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (P.L. 116-22).

This Act:

  • Followed the recommendations of the NASEM report;
  • Created the Military and Civilian Partnership for the Trauma Readiness Grant Program (MISSION ZERO) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and
  • Authorized grants to cover the administrative costs of integrating military trauma surgeons and teams into civilian trauma centers.

However, although the program was created (i.e., authorized), it has yet to be funded (i.e., appropriated). In 2020, the House of Representatives did include funding, but the Senate did not.

Five years later, trauma remains the leading cause of death for children and adults under age 44.

We are working quickly with the new Congress to achieve funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. There is already good news. On April 27, 34 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter requesting full funding for MISSION ZERO to the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee leadership. Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Bill Cassidy, MD, (R-La.) are leading a similar effort in the Senate.

May is National Trauma Awareness Month, which is an opportunity for you to take action.  So please ask your Senators and Representatives to support full funding at the authorized amount of $11.5 million for MISSION ZERO in the FY 2022 appropriations bills.

Fully funding this critical program will help improve injury care and public health response in our communities, states and nation, inclusive of our military health system.

Editor’s Note: We hope that you will share what you learn from our posts. We invite you to join the conversation on Twitter during National Trauma Awareness Month this May by following @Neurosurgery and @AmCollSurgeons, using the hashtags #TraumaAwarenessMonth and #Trauma.

John H. Armstrong, MD, FACS, FCCP
Chair, Advocacy Pillar, American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma
Former Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of Health, 2012-16
University of South Florida, Morsani College of Medicine
Tampa, Fla.

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