New Training Materials on the way, but not reviewed by VA’s Gulf War related advisory committees
Active duty U.S. Army Colonel Jeff Peters, a top VA official who works for VA Chief of Staff John Gingrich and charged with overseeing Gulf War veteran issues, has favorably responded to the latest request for clinician training materials offensive to Gulf War veterans to be removed from the VA’s website. The offending materials have now been removed from VA’s new Gulf War website at www.va.gov/gulfwar.
The VA guide for clinical care providers treating veterans of the 1991 Gulf War had included a lengthy how-to section to train clinicians in dismissing Gulf War veterans complaints and counseling them not to worry about their symptoms. The lengthy section was written by a U.S. Army psychiatrist, Colonel Chuck Engel, who last year abruptly quit a DoD funding review panel on Gulf War Illness treatment research after only one meeting.
Engel’s continued involvement in Gulf War veterans’ issues has long been the subject of concern for Gulf War veterans because of his open disbelief in Gulf War Illness and dismissive attitude towards Gulf War veterans’ chronic multisymptom illness. The inclusion of his radical beliefs in the VA’s clinical guide, which were unsupported by science, has been a source of consternation among Gulf War veterans, scientific researchers, and clinical care providers since its initial publication by VA in 1998.
Engel’s unsupported views on Gulf War Illness are not the only problematic highlight of his military career. Issues related to Engel’s failures in judgment as a longtime supervisor of Nidal Hassan became the subject of national news after Hassan’s deadly Ft. Hood shootings. Engel was disciplined for failing to take note or report on obvious signs of Hassan’s deadly beliefs.
According to one news report about Hassan’s supervisory group that included Engel, “They saw no signs of mental problems, no risk factors that would predict violent behavior. And the group discussed other factors that suggested Hasan would continue to thrive in the military, factors that mitigated their concerns.”
Peters says a new clinician training guide related to Gulf War veterans’ health has been completed and will soon be posted to the VA’s Gulf War website.
Neither the VA’s Gulf War Steering Committee, nor the VA’s Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (RAC-GWVI) have been afforded the opportunity to participate in the creation or review of the new clinician training guide.