Monday, April 18, 2011

VA’s Gulf War Steering Committee to Meet this Week

Flawed VA Gulf War Veteran Survey Proposal, Creation of a Strategic Plan to Guide Gulf War Health Research are Top Concerns to be Addressed

( - The VA’s fledgling Gulf War Steering Committee is set to meet this week Wednesday in Washington, DC. 

At the urging of the RAC-GWVI, the VA has proposed a “strategic plan" to guide Gulf War research.  While nearly 20 years late, it’s certainly better late than never to finally have a plan to guide research that to date has been piecemeal at best and entirely missing the health needs of Gulf War veterans at worst.

Much of the Gulf War Steering Committee’s discussion, which is scheduled to take up the meeting’s entire afternoon portion, will likely be aimed at repairing the badly damaged plan for a major VA survey of Gulf War veterans and creating a true strategic plan to guide VA in its health research related to Gulf War veterans.

Of great concern is the fact that the VA’s planned 2011 Follow-Up Survey of
Gulf War Era Veterans failed to involve the Steering Committee or the RAC, and therefore has many serious flaws that make it better to not do the survey at all if they’re not corrected. 

The morning portion of the Steering Committee’s day-long meeting includes the following presentations:

  • John Gingrich, VA Chief of Staff
  • Dr. Joel Kupersmith, VA Chief Research & Development Officer
  • Research Information Management System, by Holly Birdsall, VA Office of Research & Development (ORD)
  • Dr. Robert Jaeger, Acting Director, Deployment Health Research Program
  • Million Veteran Program (MVP) & Genomic Medicine Program (MVP) , by Dr. Timothy O’Leary, VA Deputy Chief Research & Development Officer
  • Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), Gulf War Illness Research Program, by Dr. Melissa A. Forsythe, Colonel, United States Army (Ret.)
  • Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards (OPEIH), by Dr. Michael R. Peterson, Chief Consultant, Environmental Health and Dr. Terry J. Walters, Director, Environmental Agents Service

Dr. William J. “Bill” Goldberg, Program Manager of the VA’s Gulf War Research Program will present VA’s proposed Draft Strategic Plan, which currently includes the five broad items posted below.

The members of the VA’s new Gulf War Steering Committee include five members of (or appointed by) the VA’s National Research Advisory Committee (NRAC), which encompasses all of VA’s medical research, and four members of (of appointed by) the VA’s Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (RAC-GWVI).

One of the GWSC’s RAC members – me – is the panel’s representative Gulf War veteran with GWI.

VA officials created the GWSC based on an action item in the internal VA Task Force on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses and the recommendation of the RAC-GWVI.

The new panel held its first meeting via teleconference in June, and its first in person meeting in Washington, DC in October.  This will be the Steering Committee’s third meeting.  

--Anthony Hardie, Gulf War Veteran Member of the VA Gulf War Steering Committee, RAC-GWVI, and CDMRP-GWIRP

As always, I’ll keep my fellow Gulf War veterans updated via here on 91outcomes. And as always, your thoughts and recommendations are *always* welcome and also as always, I will do my best to represent you on these issues that affect all of us.


Draft Strategic Plan (3-Year) for VA Gulf War Research Program

1. Identify/test new symptomatic treatments for ill Gulf War Veterans

2. Identify therapeutic targets for development of new treatments for ill Gulf War Veterans.  Identify plausible hypotheses on the underlying causes and related pathways that might account for persistent symptoms.  Systems biology:

a. Genomics

b. Proteomics

c. Metobolomics

d. Animal models

3. Establish new case definition(s)

4. Identify biomarkers/diagnostics for ill Gulf War Veterans

a. State-of-the-art Neuroimaging

b. Genomics

c. Proteomics

d. Metabolomics

5. Improve coordination and communication with partners

a. VA Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards (OPEIH)

b. Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), Gulf War Illness Research Program


Unknown said...


Anthony Hardie said...

Hi, Sarah - as a totally and permanently disabled Gulf War veteran myself, I couldn't agree with you more.

In the past, VA made many, many mistakes and communication with Gulf War veterans broke down completely.

This week, I'm encouraged even more that the "new VA" is making important strides to right the wrongs of the past. Please see today's newest article on that: