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New PTSD, TBI facility may find home at Fort Bliss

By Matthew Smith, Good Morning El Paso Weekend Anchor / Reporter
Published On: Feb 15 2013 06:18:47 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 10:08:59 PM CST
EL PASO, Texas -

Despite sequestration talks that could account for reductions in troops and training dollars for Army posts across the country, new multimillion dollar facilities are popping up across the country.

Fort Bliss could be next.

However, those in the know are careful on what they're saying.

"We must raise money, as soon as we raise funds we hope to build one there," said David Winter, president of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

While cutbacks has become the norm, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund have stepped in to fill the gap when it comes to medical coverage.

In 2010, the National Intrepid of Excellence (NICoE) opened in Bethesda, Md. The $65 million facility is a cutting-edge facility built to combat the invisible wounds of war like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Unlike other facilities run by the Department of Defense, the NICoE was built entirely by civilian funds.  The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund build the facility, complete with state-of-the-art equipment to do research on injuries doctors don't fully understand.  Once it was completed, they handed the keys over to government staff.

"There is nowhere else like it," said Jim Kelly in a promotional video published online by the Intrepid Museum.

After the success of the world-class facility in Maryland, talks grew of building nine satellite centers throughout the United States. Fort Bliss is said to be among the nine locations being considered.

Two sites have broken ground in Virginia and North Carolina. An additional $70 million must be raised to finish another seven.  However, an order hasn't been decided on according to Winter. Each site costs around $11 million.

Rosemary Neill, a county employee who told El Paso County commissioners about the potential of the project, told commissioners on Monday that it would be a great "get" for El Paso.

"This is very good news for Fort Bliss," said Neill.

Fort Bliss has already taken strides when it comes to PTSD and TBI research. Earlier this month, Major Gen. Dana Pittard told media that Bliss has the lowest suicide rate in the country. In 2012 five soldiers from Fort Bliss committed suicide, that's down from seven in 2011.

Whether a NICoE satellite center would improve those numbers is unknown. ABC-7 reached out to a public information officer with Fort Bliss who confirmed that preliminary talks had begun, but further information is not yet available.

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