As one of tens of thousands of Gulf War Veterans afflicted with constant intense muscle pain and very debilitating fatigue, I did not hesitate for one second when asked to participate in the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) for Gulf War Illness Research. I am ill, but far better off than many of my fellow warriors. As a retired officer of Marines I feel a strong moral obligation to do whatever I can to improve the quality of life for those afflicted by Gulf War-related illnesses. All members of the military are taught to leave no one behind in war. Everyone comes home. Sick Gulf War Veterans will not truly be "home" until solutions to their daily pain and suffering are identified.
I am not a wealthy man. I'm not even a healthy man anymore; at least not physically. But the spiritual wealth I have acquired through the experience of chronic illness and pain make me one of the richest men in this country. Pain and suffering has made a better man of me. It has awakened a part of my spirit that I never knew existed. It has awakened my sense of compassion and empathy for those who suffer alongside me, but who are not blessed with the ability to continue working and providing for their families as I am. I need to help my brothers and sisters-in arms, and I intend to do that in any way that I am able. My body may have slowed, but my mind is still a formidable weapon that I intend to use to fight these illnesses, for myself, and for my comrades.
Much evidence points to the likelihood of genetic predisposition to the chronic illnesses suffered by one-in-four Gulf War Veterans, which explains why many seem to have escaped unscathed. I'm one of the unlucky ones. That said; I truly believe that I was meant to be one those who fell ill due to service in the Persian Gulf War. The United States Marine Corps trained and mentored me for twenty years; God supplied me with the sound mind and body required to be a successful Marine. It's now clear to me that my destiny all along was to become a front-line warrior in the fight to uncover the mysteries surrounding Gulf War Illnesses.
Considering the renewed commitment that I have observed recently on the part of the Departments' of Veterans Affairs and Defense to once and for all solve the mysteries surrounding Gulf War Illnesses, I am energized beyond words. I truly believe that we are on the cusp of medical and scientific discoveries that will soon bring effective treatments to the many Veterans who have been afflicted for nearly twenty years with unexplained chronic illnesses resulting from their service.
The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) for Gulf War Illnesses Research is vital link in the chain of events that will eventually bring relief to tens of thousands of American heroes. I am honored to be afforded the opportunity to play a role in that noble undertaking.
-Dave Winnett, Consumer Reviewer, CDMRP
Source: Congressionally Directed Gulf War Illness Medical Research Program, http://cdmrp.army.mil/cwg/stories/2010/dwinnett_profile.shtmlPhotos and text used by CDMRP with permission of Dave Winnett.