The following is a January 19, 2010 press release from the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs:
Gulf War Illnesses Recognition Day Ceremony honors veterans
Governor's 2010 Gulf War Illnesses Recognition Day Proclamation presented to veterans
(MADISON – Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs) – Wisconsin veterans of the Persian Gulf War were honored during a ceremony hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) and held on January 15th in conjunction with a meeting of the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs in Boland Hall of the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Union Grove.
Veterans of the Gulf War participated in the ceremony held in advance of the actual date of observance, January 17, 2010, marking the 19th anniversary of the onset of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, or Operation Desert Storm, on Jan. 17, 1991, which took place until July 31, 1991. Around 10,400 service members from Wisconsin served during the conflict.
“This is the fifth Gulf War Illnesses Recognition Day ceremony being held by the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs,” said department Secretary Ken Black. “It is important to promote awareness and education about Gulf War Illnesses, and to encourage those veterans who may not have enrolled in the VA health care system to do so, as well as to apply for their state benefits.”
“About one-fourth to one-third of all U.S. service men and women who served in the Gulf War – and that number totaled near 700,000 – now have service-connected ailments,” said emcee Jose Leon, a Gulf War veteran who was introduced as the new Executive Assistant of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.
Also addressing the audience briefly was State Representative Bob Turner of Racine. In attendance were Ryan Knocke, an aide to U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, State Senator John Lehman of Racine, State Representative Samantha Kerkman of Kenosha, and Janine Hale, an aide to State Representative Robin Vos of Racine.
Secretary Black read a Governor’s Proclamation signed by Governor Jim Doyle declaring January 17, 2010 as Gulf War Illnesses Recognition Day in Wisconsin and presented it to the Gulf War veterans there, accepted by David Boetcher of Waunakee, the newest member of the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs.
2005 Wisconsin Act 37 was created designating each January 17th as Gulf War Illnesses Recognition Day in the state, a day statutorily designated for recognition of those who still suffer from post-deployment health issues. Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to designate an annual observance, with the first observance in 2006.
For more information about Gulf War Illnesses, visit the WDVA webpage at www.WisVets.com/GulfWar. Also available on the department website are links to the federal VA and information about veterans’ benefits and services. The department’s toll-free phone number is 1-800-WIS-VETS (947-8387).