January 15, 2010
RE: 2010 State of Wisconsin Gulf War Illnesses Recognition Day
Dear fellow Gulf War veterans, advocates, and loved ones of 1991 Gulf War veterans:
It was a very painful realization last spring, following my fifth service-connected surgery, that I was no longer able to continue working in any capacity, largely due to my own Gulf War Syndrome and mustard lung afflictions. For my fellow Gulf War veterans, this experience is all too common, with more than one-third of us now on the disability rolls and between 175,000 and 210,000 of us suffering from the debilitating effects of the chronic multi-symptom disease known as Gulf War Syndrome or Gulf War Illness.
For the last 15 years, I’ve come to know many of you while serving as an active advocate on issues related to Gulf War veterans health and other veterans issues, including during my service as a Congressional aide and most recently as the third in command at the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.
It’s been a difficult road for all of us who were affected by chemicals in the 1991 Gulf War, with Gulf War veterans having to become their own advocates with the federal VA, on Capitol Hill, and often even in our own local communities. On this 19th anniversary of the beginning of the 1991 Gulf War, for many Gulf War veterans, the battle has never ended with struggles for appropriate health care and benefits dominating the years after service in the 1991 Gulf War.
However, there is new hope on the horizon.
First, just over a year ago, the congressionally chartered U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Research Advisory Committee (RAC) on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses released a comprehensive, 454-page scientific report that provided details on the chemical causes of Gulf War Syndrome and a pathway for treatments for this debilitating, service-related condition. The RAC – created under the Persian Gulf War Veterans Act of 1998 that was championed by the National Gulf War Resource Center – is made up of about ten distinguished scientists and medical researchers from the U.S. and UK and five affected Gulf War veterans, including myself.
This formal government announcement led to headlines across the globe, “Gulf War Syndrome is Real.” While this was certainly not news to Gulf War veterans and their loved ones, this final government recognition did help pave the way for more a more reliable stream of federal funding directed at treatment-focused medical research for these serious Gulf War chemical injuries and the resultant, debilitating, multi-symptom disease.
I have sent along a full case of these book-sized reports, entitled, “Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans: Scientific Findings and Recommendations,” for public distribution at today’s event. The report is also available online at www1.va.gov/rac-gwvi.
Second, the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) now continues to receive annual funding from Congress for medical research to test potentially helpful treatments for Gulf War Illness and to better understand the serious neurological and DNA-level damage caused by the chemical toxic soup of the 1991 Gulf War.
Just last month, Congress appropriated another $8 million for the CDMRP’s FY10 GWIRP program. As an affected Gulf War veteran consumer member since the program’s FY06 restoration, I’m looking forward to our January 14th meetings in Annapolis, Maryland, which will be completed by the time this letter is distributed. During these meetings, our small group of appointed scientists, medical doctors, and two ill Gulf War veterans will decide the fate of which proposals are the most promising to receive FY09’s $8 million for treating and better understanding Gulf War Illness and then set the course for the FY10 program.
More information about the CDMRP, including how affected veterans and their loved ones can help our fellow disabled veterans by participating as consumer reviewers in the Gulf War Illness and several other research programs, is available online at cdmrp.army.mil, or in the CDMRP information booklets I have sent to be distributed at today’s event.
Finally, funded studies from prior years are testing treatments that show great promise, like high doses of Coenzyme Q-10 and many more. The latest news and information for Gulf War veterans, their advocates, and their loved ones – including breaking news about promising new treatments – is published on a website called 91outcomes, which is the official news source on Gulf War veterans’ health for the National Gulf War Resource Center, National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, Veterans of Modern Warfare, and others. The website address is: 91outcomes.blogspot.com.
I hope the information in this letter is of use to you or someone you know. Thank you for your service to our nation and to our nation’s 697,000 veterans of the 1991 Gulf War.
All the best,
Anthony D. Hardie
Appointed Veteran Member,
RAC & CDMPR-GWIRP