It remains unclear why VA has a uniformed, active duty DoD military officer from DoD’s Office of Force Protection – the source of nearly all of the Gulf War veterans’ mistrust – as VA’s lead staff member on this veterans’ health issue.
A few weeks ago following the most recent RAC-GWVI meeting, we discussed your assertion that there was a new Veterans Health Initiative (VHI) publication. For those cc'ed on this email, the VHI has healthcare providers treating ill 1991 Gulf War veterans as its target audience. Thereafter, you sent the email pasted below, to which I have to date received no response.
Several weeks later, I note that the Gulf War VHI on va.gov/gulfwar is still the same 2001/02 VHI that everyone has been calling for the last several years for VA to remove because much if not most of it is seriously outdated, misleading, and in many cases now known to be false. Here's the VA webpage on which it is touted and linked, for easy reference: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/vethealthinitiative/gulfwar.asp
Among the most serious errors in VA's current PGW VHI, featured on your new Gulf War website, are:
- A focus on "reassurance of patients" rather than providing treatment, or in the absence of effective treatments, explaining with honesty that there currently are none. These statements alone beginning on page 27 and written by a psychiatrist who is still to this day open about his disbelief in GWI and quit the CDMRP GWIRP review panel last year because the other panelists refused to agree with him (Col. Chuck Engel, one of the supervisory officers reprimanded in the Fort Worth Islamist shooting incident). This inappropriate monologue on communication with PGW patients goes on for seven pages -- more than is dedicated to any other topic in this VHI.
It is this kind of lack of responsibility that continues to turn veterans against VA. Why wouldn't it?
- "Infectious diseases, however, have not been shown to be a major cause of chronic illnesses. After 10 years of intense clinical observation and study, it is increasingly unlikely that an infectious or immune process could cause serious health problems and remain undetected." -- This flies in the face of VA's recent presumptive service-connection of 9 endemic diseases for PG and Afghanistan veterans
- IOM has found insufficient evidence on any PGW exposures -- obviously outdated and now false
- Suggestions that GWI is the same as occurs after every war -- this is a myth scientifically refuted long ago
- Most Gulf War health issues are diagnosable -- this stands in direct contradiction to IOM's GW Vol. 8, which finds 250,000 with chronic multi-symptom illness
- GWI doesn't exist -- another myth, exploded by science and publicized by both RAC-GWVI and IOM
- The falsehood that GWI is really one of 7 conditions: FM, CFS, IBS, PTSD, Depression, Anxiety Disorder, Headache
- No unusual risk of ALS -- Patently false
- OP chemical warfare agents cause symptoms that are virtually identical to those caused by OP pesticides. -- False
To keep this VHI -- which angered the entire GWI community when it was first released in 1998 and again in 2001/2001 -- on the VA website irrefutably demonstrates that VA continues to hold these flawed beliefs as current, accurate, and meaningful for VA and other healthcare providers.
To make this more personal, can you imagine how insulted you would feel if you went to your doctor with a very real set of debilitating health symptoms, yet your doctor spent the entire appointment trying solely to "reassure" you as is carefully and extensively advised in VA's Gulf War VHI?
To keep this VHI on the VA website is not only a disservice to Gulf War veterans and their health care providers, but a slap in the face of every committee, researcher, and veteran who rightly called for its removal.
It should go without saying, but having such very bad information actively being provided by VA is worse than having no information at all.
What will it take for VA to listen and finally remove this highly flawed VHI as has been repeatedly recommended? Please advise me.
On Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 2:48 PM, Peters, Jeff <Jeff.Peters@va.gov> wrote:
I had a question today about the new VHI I did know the answer to and wanted your help. I am looping Anthony Hardie, who asked the question, into the conversation. Regarding the new GW VHI how did we construct the education program so it was more relevant to the 1990-1991 GW Cohort? Thanks Tori,
Office of the Secretary
Department of Veteran Affairs