Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sanders-Kucinich effort would provide treatments for Gulf War veterans

25 percent of 1991 Gulf War veterans still disabled, suffering from Gulf War Syndrome; Funding would pay for treatment-focused research
( - An appropriations initiative in Congress would provide much-needed funding for Gulf War illness, focused on treatments, but needs the support of more members of Congress.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, between 175,000 and 210,000 – or about 25 percent – of the living veterans of the 1991 Gulf War are currently afflicted by a debilitating, chronic, multi-symptom, multi-system disease commonly known as Gulf War Illness or Gulf War Syndrome.
However, due to years of squandered federal efforts wrongly focused on “stress” as the culprit, the first real focus on treatments for Gulf War illness caused by the Gulf War’s toxic soup of chemicals only began just three years ago, with $5 million in federal funding for a new treatment-focused effort within the the U.S. Department of Defense at the Ft. Detrick, Maryland-based Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).
The effort to provide $25 million in long overdue Gulf War illness treatment funding  is being led in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), and in the U.S. Senate by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).
By contrast, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) research  at CDMRP were funded at $150 million each in a recent year.
In November 2008, the Congressionally chartered U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Research Advisory Committee (RAC) on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses identified some of the most probable causes of Gulf War illness, said treatment is almost certainly possible, and called for funding at $40 million to help find relief for the one-quarter of veterans of the 1991 Gulf War still suffering from the war’s toxic after-effects.
More promising news was released last month at a presentation at the VA headquarters in Washington, DC, with damaged and dysfunctional brain cells playing a key role in the complexities of Gulf War Syndrome.  [Read the Full article here]
And then earlier this month, scientists provided compelling brain images documenting Gulf War illness dysfunction.  [Read the full article].
And last week in Dallas, where some of the most promising research is currently being conducted, the Dallas Morning News called for funding to continue, citing a piece in Science News in which Richard Briggs, one of the researchers, says, "In the last two years we have learned more about Gulf War Illness than we did in the previous 15."
Won’t you please take just a moment to drop an email or make a call to your Member of Congress to request they sign onto the “Sanders/Kucinich letters” to help fund the discovery of medical treatments for suffering Gulf War veterans?
Supporters should immediately contact their Congressional representative and both of their U.S. Senators to request that they sign on to the Sanders/Kucinich letters supporting FY2011 Gulf War illness treatments research.
Don’t know who represents you in Congress?  Use this handy tool: 
Below is the text of the Kucinich House letter to the other members of Congress, who typically will sign on if requested by one of their constituents who lives in the state or district they represent.
And, according to Senator Sanders’ staff, this request is currently supported by this impressive list of the following organizations:
  1. Air Force Association (AFA)
  2. American Legion
  4. Association of the United States Army (AUSA)
  5. Association of the United States Navy (AUSN)
  6. Blinded Veterans Association (BVA)
  7. Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
  8. Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS)
  9. Fleet Reserve Association (FRA)
  10. Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)
  11. National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA)
  12. National Association for Uniformed Service (NAUS)
  13. National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS)
  14. National Gulf War Resource Center (NGWRC)
  15. National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition
  16. Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)
  17. Reserve Officers Association (ROA)
  18. The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA)
  19. U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association (USCGCPOA)
  20. Veterans for Common Sense (VCS)
  21. Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW)
  22. Veterans of Modern Warfare (VMW)
  23. Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)
Thank you for your support and assistance for the veterans of the 1991 Gulf War.
--Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes Publisher/Editor, member of the RAC, and totally disabled Gulf War veteran.
Dear Colleague:
We invite you to join us in supporting research into Gulf War Veterans Illnesses by signing a letter to the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee requesting $25 million for fiscal year 2011. This request has the endorsement of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the National Vietnam and Gulf War Vets Coalition, the Fleet Reserves Association, the Reserve Enlisted Association, Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States.
Last month, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki indicated that the VA intends to revisit the rejected claims of Gulf War veterans who have attempted to access treatment for the illnesses linked to their service. But there is still no effective treatment for Gulf War Illnesses. The research program’s tremendous successes are creating growing excitement among scientists in the health research community because of the potential to not only help veterans, but so many others who suffer from similar illnesses. GWI researcher Richard Briggs said, “In the last two years we have learned more about Gulf War Illness than we did in the previous 15.”
Research has shown that Gulf War veterans suffer from ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, at double the rate of their non-deployed peers. Additionally, the 2008 report from the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses (RAC) stated that “Gulf War illness is real, that it is the result of neurotoxic exposures during Gulf War deployment, and that few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time.”
The 2008 report also recommended that Congress appropriate $40 million for the program, “an amount commensurate with the scope of the problem.” We propose to continue this important work with $25 million in FY11.

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