Saturday, May 22, 2010

DoD, Michael Kilpatrick, spin IOM’s report into focus primarily on psychiatric issues

Health.mil Home

Written by Anthony Hardie

(91outcomes.com) – In a new article by the U.S. Department of Defense, the latest findings by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) related to Gulf War veterans’ illnesses are twisted or outright ignored, focusing on psychiatric conditions including at least one not even named in the IOM press release while nearly ignoring the very real physical health issues that IOM noted affect more than one-third of Gulf War veterans.

“The excess of unexplained medical symptoms reported by deployed Gulf War veterans cannot be reliably ascribed to any known psychiatric disorder,” said the Institute of Medicine in its comprehensive scientific review last month, which also said that 250,000 veterans of the 1991 Gulf War suffer from chronic multisymptom illness.  This debilitating health condition affecting one third of Gulf War veterans is more commonly called Gulf War Illness or Gulf War Syndrome.

However, the DoD article misses many of the health conditions linked by IOM to Gulf War service, and reorders those it does list to put the psychiatric conditions first. 

For many years, Gulf War veterans have complained about federal government spin that left them without needed health care for the underlying conditions causing their chronic, multiple symptoms. 

This latest DoD release is likely to be met with anger by Gulf War veterans.

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The IOM report press release and link to the full report is located at:  http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12835

Comments can be posted to the DoD article, located at:  http://www.health.mil/blog/10-05-20/Institute_of_Medicine_Releases_Gulf_War_Illness_Report.aspx

The comments feature on the DoD webpage is monitored.  Two comments left earlier today have yet to show on the DoD website, one of which was as follows:

Shame on you, DoD, for twisting IOM's release into yet one more story that focuses on psychiatric issues (PTSD affects roughly 10-11%) when the real story about more than 250,000 Gulf War veterans is elsewhere.

IOM's own release listed the causal condition first, as they always do. Of course war causes PTSD in some veterans; that's hardly news.

IOM's release then went on with the following: "and is also associated with multisymptom illness; gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome; substance abuse, particularly alcoholism; and psychiatric problems such as anxiety disorder."

Finally, IOM stated the conditions for which there is some evidence of links to the Gulf War: "There is some evidence that service during the conflict is linked to fibromyalgia and chronic widespread pain, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sexual difficulties, and death due to causes such as car accidents in the early years after deployment."

In this press release, those of you responsible at DoD were utterly irresponsible, including reversing the order of the conditions listed by IOM by their order of strength, and omitting quite of few of them entirely.

Scientists briefing the VA believe they have found causes, and believe that effective treatments can be developed that might improve the health and lives of ill Gulf War veterans. THAT brings real hope to Gulf War veterans; this DoD press release is just more spin by the same people like Michael Kilpatrick, who have been denying Gulf War veterans even THAT piece of mind for far too long.

Kilpatrick seems to have missed the IOM's own release, which said, in part:

"The report calls for a substantial commitment to improve identification and treatment of multisymptom illness in Gulf War veterans. The path forward should include continued monitoring of Gulf War veterans and development of better medical care for those with persistent, unexplained symptoms. Researchers should undertake studies comparing genetic variations and other differences in veterans experiencing multisymptom illness and asymptomatic veterans. It is likely that multisymptom illness results from the interactions between environmental exposures and genes, and genetics may predispose some individuals to illness, the committee noted. There are sufficient numbers of veterans to conduct meaningful comparisons given that nearly 700,000 U.S. personnel were deployed to the region and more than 250,000 of them suffer from persistant, unexplained symptoms. A consortium involving the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense, and National Institutes of Health could coordinate this effort and contribute the necessary resources."

"The committee concluded that multisymptom illness is linked to Gulf War service, based on the availability of a number of good-quality surveys documenting increased reporting and occurrence of multiple, unexplained symptoms among veterans from several countries that sent troops, including the United Kingdom and Australia. "

"Veterans who continue to suffer from these symptoms deserve the very best that modern science and medicine can offer to speed the development of effective treatments, cures, and -- we hope -- prevention. Our report suggests a path forward to accomplish this goal, and we believe that through a concerted national effort and rigorous scientific input, answers can be found.""

How much longer do veterans have to wait before people like Kilpatrick -- who has long been focused on "stress" as a cause of hundreds of thousands of Gulf War veterans' illness -- are finally removed by the new Administration?

And, it’s pretty disingenuous to lay out all those big numbers of studies and their cost without breaking them down. For example: How many of those studies have been focused on stress and psychiatric issues as what's wrong with Gulf War veterans?100? 200? 300? More? Yet, despite the constant, heavy focus on stress and psychiatric causes by DoD of the past and, apparently, the present, the results are clear in the IOM report’s words, which you at DoD chose to omit: “The excess of unexplained medical symptoms reported by deployed Gulf War veterans cannot be reliably ascribed to any known psychiatric disorder.”

And, how many of that large number of expensive studies have been focused on PB pills and pesticides? Not many, right? How about on reversing the damage? None, right?

How many studies have surveyed veterans of the Gulf War to ask them specifically which chemical warfare agents they believe they were exposed to, and the basis of that belief? None, right?

How about ALS studies that have led to effective new treatments? Sadly, more than 70 years after Lou Gehrig died of the disease, there ‘s only one, and it only prolongs life with ALS by a handful of months.

Of those studies, Mr. Kilpatrick, exactly how many have focused on inhaled or ingested Depleted Uranium dust? Any?

VA's new leadership is taking Gulf War Illness issues in the right direction, and are a shining light and a beacon of hope. Despite the fact that it's now nearly 20 years since the Gulf War, better late than never. And now, it's high time for DoD to get it right, too.

Come on, DoD -- there's real work to do. Our disabled Gulf War veterans deserve no less, and future generations of troops will depend on us finding effective treatments -- and prevention -- TODAY.

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