TEES to share in $9.5 million secured for defense projects
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) will share in $9.5 million that was secured by U.S. Representative Chet Edwards for defense projects at Texas A&M under the final 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill, which was signed into law by President Bush on Nov. 13. The funding will be used for five key defense research projects at the university. "I am very pleased that the final defense bill includes my request for $9.5 million for five key defense research projects at Texas A&M," said Edwards, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. "These defense projects are part of a long-term plan to enhance and strengthen Texas A&M's historic partnership with the Department of Defense. These priority programs will strengthen our nation's defense, improve our homeland security and support jobs and economic growth in the Brazos Valley." Dr. G. Kemble Bennett, Texas A&M Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering said, "The single, most-critical component needed to make significant and timely advances in defense-related technology is funding. Thanks to the tireless and faithful efforts of Congressman Edwards, this funding will enable the best and brightest minds among Texas A&M Engineering to continue finding new solutions to defense-related challenges, and ultimately, better protect the citizens of Texas and the nation." Edwards secured $1.2 million to help Texas A&M work with the Air Force to develop a sensor for spacecraft to detect objects in their surroundings that may threaten U.S. intelligence operations. "These space surveillance tools will protect American spacecraft and satellites. As more and more countries gain access to space, it is important for us to track objects that come close to our incredibly valuable spacecraft and their important missions," said Edwards. Edwards secured $800,000 for Texas A&M to work with the Navy on the development of technology to use lasers to detect biochemical agents in the atmosphere over a battlefield or community. "This important project will help protect installations like Fort Hood from attack, our troops in combat against chemical and biological attacks and could be used to protect our cities and communities from terrorists using chemical and biological agents," said Edwards. "This is a revolutionary capability that would fill a critical unmet need that would help protect our troops in battle," said Edwards. Edwards also secured $800,000 for research that will help protect and extend the life of rotor blades on military aircraft operating in deserts in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The degrading of rotor blades in desert environments has been become a major problem for the Department of Defense and this project will help the military protect against sand and water erosion to keep more aircraft available for military operations," said Edwards. Edwards is also working on important defense projects that partner Texas A&M University and Fort Hood in Killeen. Edwards helped add $3 million to continue a program he has supported for years between Texas A&M and Fort Hood which has been recognized by the Texas Council on Environmental Quality for its positive environmental benefits. "This project improves training grounds after they have been eroded and degraded from tank and training operations on base. This is another example of A&M working with Fort Hood to help our troops train so that they can carry out their mission successfully when they reach the battlefield," said Edwards. Dr. Elsa Murano, Vice Chancellor and Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University System said, "These funds will help Fort Hood maintain and repair training lands by using innovative control measures developed by Texas A&M Agriculture scientists. I strongly support this cooperation, and I appreciate the leadership of Congressman Edwards, who has been instrumental in improving the landscape on Fort Hood to better support mechanized training." Edwards added $1 million to allow A&M to help Fort Hood improve training by enhancing their digital command and control systems and simulation capability. "This project, which I have supported for a number of years, has dramatically improved the effectiveness of our Army tanks in combat," said Edwards. Finally, Edwards also secured $2.7 million for a joint Waco VA-Ft. Hood-Texas A&M health research program that will examine the underlying causes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Edwards created the program with $3 million he secured in the 2006 defense healthcare bill. "The Waco VA and Ft. Hood are uniquely positioned to conduct world-class research with the Department of Defense and Texas A&M to find improved treatments and cures for veterans suffering from mental illness and post traumatic stress disorder," said Edwards. "The close proximity of a military installation that has sent over 40,000 soldiers to Iraq and a VA hospital that is a nationally recognized center of excellence for veterans' mental health care cannot be matched anywhere else in the country," said Edwards, chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee. Dr. Nancy Dickey, President, Texas A&M Health Science Center said, "Representative Edwards continues to enhance the well-being of our soldiers and the effectiveness of our universities as demonstrated by the funding garnered for the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder project. As a result of funding secured by Mr. Edwards, the medical profession will better understand the causes and treatments of PTSD and will develop mechanisms to assure access to effective diagnosis and treatment for our returning soldiers with PTSD. As the mother of a veteran, as a physician, and as the president of a health sciences university, I thank Chet Edwards for the work he continuously does to improve the lives of Texans."