Monday, January 12, 2009

ODVA VETS NEWS: Gulf War Illness is real federal report concludes

A federal report released November 17
concludes that Gulf War illness is
real and that roughly one in four of
the 697,000 U.S. Veterans who served in the
Persian Gulf War suffer from the illness.
According to the Research Advisory
Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses,
two chemicals cause Gulf War illness: the
drug pyridostigmine bromide (PB pills)
given to troops to protect against nerve gas,
and pesticides that were widely used – and
overused – to protect against sand flies and
other pests.

The 452-page report compiled by a panel of
scientific experts and veterans serving on the
Committee confirms that, “scientific evidence
leaves no question that Gulf War illness is a
real condition with real causes and serious
consequences for affected veterans.”
According to 38 United States Code 1117,
Persian Gulf War veterans may experience
signs or symptoms of undiagnosed illness or a
chronic multi-symptom illness that includes:
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained rashes or other dermatological signs or symptoms
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Neurological signs and symptoms
  • Signs or symptoms involving the upper or lower respiratory system
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Gastrointestinal signs or symptoms
  • Abnormal weight loss
  • Menstrual disorders
In combination, these undiagnosed illnesses
have been termed Gulf War Syndrome. The report
also notes a higher than average occurrence of
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often
referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

“This is a bittersweet victory, (because) this
is what Gulf War veterans have been saying all
along,” Committee member Anthony Hardie
said. “Years were squandered by the federal
government…trying to disprove that anything
could be wrong with Gulf War veterans.”

Several previous reports issued by the Institute
of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy
of Sciences, had concluded that there was
little evidence to support Gulf War Syndrome.

However, the Committee’s report concludes
the previous reports were inappropriately
constrained by the VA. According to the panel,
the VA ordered the Institute to consider only
limited human studies and not extensive animal
research, thus skewing the earlier studies.

The Committee’s report, titled “Gulf War
Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans” was
officially presented to the Secretary of Veterans
Affairs Dr. James Peake. The report states
that the illness comes as a result of multiple
“biological alterations” affecting the brain and
nervous system.

The report does not rule out other contributing
factors, but notes there is no clear link between
Gulf War Syndrome and oil well fires, depleted
uranium or the anthrax vaccination. The suspect
nerve agent pills and pesticides no longer are
used in the military.

To view the entire report, go to www.oregon.

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