Concussion Legacy Foundation Recognizes U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with 2016 Impact Award

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Award will be accepted by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald at November 3rd Fundraiser

(BOSTON) – The Concussion Legacy Foundation will honor the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with the Impact Award at the 9th Annual Impact Awards Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 3, at the Boston Harbor Hotel. The Impact Awards recognizes individuals and organizations for their commitment to solving the concussion crisis. The award will be accepted by U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald, a military Veteran himself who earlier this year pledged to donate his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which collaborates with the VA and Boston University as part of the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank.

“The Boston VA is the home of the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, and we could not have accomplished this world-changing research without their early trust and continued support, including space, talented research staff, and funding,” said Chris Nowinski, co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “We are proud that the results of this work are not only benefitting military Veterans but every American who deals with brain trauma and traumatic brain injury.”

“We are pleased to have Secretary McDonald here to accept the award, especially as a decorated Veteran who is also leading by example by pledging to donate his brain to our research effort,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, co-founder and medical director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation

“Brain injuries are among the signature wounds of wartime service in Iraq and Afghanistan, affecting tens of thousands of combat veterans,” said Secretary McDonald. “The VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank is an outstanding example of VA’s partnerships with 1,800 academic institutions and private-sector organizations, which over the years have produced many award-winning advances in medical science. The research enabled by the brain bank will lead to better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat brain injuries—not just for Veterans but for millions of athletes and other Americans, young and old.”

The Secretary will also announce that the second annual Brain Trust: Pathways to InnoVAtion event will take place in Boston in the spring of 2017. Building off of the success of last year’s event, next year’s convening  brings together many of the most influential voices in the field of brain health to identify and advance solutions for mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Pathways to InnoVAtion series also helps focus attention on ways to improve health outcomes for all Americans by leveraging VA’s position as the largest medical research institution.

The VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank is directed by Dr. Ann McKee, director of neuropathology for the Boston VA and professor of neurology and pathology at Boston University School of Medicine. It is now the largest sports mTBI and CTE repository in the world with over 380 brains donated, over a thousand more pledged, and over 200 cases of CTE identified, 70 percent of the confirmed cases globally.

At the event the Secretary will be joined by over 70 family members of brain donors to the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, including the families of many Veterans, all of whom are joining the event for free as part of the Concussion Legacy Foundation’s second Family Huddle, a three-day conference in which the families learn directly from BU, VA, and Foundation research and program staff how their donation has advanced science and informed policy meant to protect athletes and Veterans.

Secretary McDonald is a 1975 graduate of United States Military Academy at West Point and an alumnus of the University of Utah, where he earned an MBA. As an Infantry officer, both Airborne and Ranger qualified, he served with the 82nd Airborne Division. Upon leaving military service, Captain McDonald was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. In 1980, Mr. McDonald joined Procter & Gamble, a Fortune 50 company, where he rose through the ranks to become Chief Executive Officer and President. He retired in June of 2013. Nominated by President Obama as the eighth Secretary of Veterans Affairs on June 30th, he was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 29, 2014.

Previous Impact Awards honorees include WWE, The Ivy League, the National Football League, Dr. Ann McKee, soccer players Brandi Chastain, Cindy Parlow Cone and Taylor Twellman, boxer Micky Ward, and former NFL players Ted Johnson and Kevin Turner. Turner passed away earlier this year due to complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease BU and VA researchers have linked to brain trauma, and his family donated his brain to the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank.

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