Despite many rumours of expected floor amendments to reduce or eliminate funding for the acclaimed Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRPs), none were proposed on the House floor.
"You can perhaps chalk this up to luck, but I do think our grassroots advocacy made a difference," said Mark Vieth, Senior Vice President of Washington, DC-based lobbying firm Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates.
Vieth, whose successful advocacy work includes leading an active coalition of several dozen health advocacy groups and support of two rare diseases that are part of the CDMRP research portfolio, said, "I believe the combined actions of all the groups in this coalition allowed us to hit every member of the House."
"The House Appropriations Committee certainly received signals that amendments were in the works, so I think our efforts may have convinced those considering amendments to back down," said Vieth.
Most of the programs suffered a twenty percent cut from previous year's levels, however. A rare amendment sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh.) and approved by a three-fifth's margin increased funding for CDMRP Gulf War Illness (GWI) treatment research by 25 percent over last year's level.
The Senate has not yet passed an appropriations bill for Defense Department for the upcoming fiscal year, meaning this year's process is far from over.
The highly regarded CDMRP, with a growing portfolio of important successes, supplements and complements other federal research programs like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA research funds only VA employees, and has primarily approved research proposed solely by individual investigators.
CDMRP programs, by contrast, focus on funding only the very best research that falls within strategic goals and funding plans developed by integration panels for each of the researched diseases. Many of CDMRP's programs focus on broad collaborative efforts.
And, unlike most other federal research programs including VA and most NIH programs, CDMRP also fully integrates not only medical research peer reviewers, but also consumer reviewers -- individuals directly affected by each disease being researched -- in every aspect of its planning, review, and final research recommendations.
CDMRP funding is highly competitive for the relatively small amount of available funding. Approval for CDMRP grant funding is a highly prestigious honor in the medical research community.
CDMRP health research programs are directed by Congress and virtually all are military related. The programs range from those that are most visibly related to current military service, including traumatic brain injury, psychological health, and Gulf War Illness chemical injuries, to those that have direct, but longer-term association to military service, including ALS, MS, MDS, and an array of cancers and other diseases that are more highly prevalent among military servicemembers than those without comparable military service.
The greater prevalence of these diseases among current and former military servicemembers is thought to be due to an array of hazardous exposures during military service -- often in combination -- including chemical, radiological, explosive blasts and other war traumas, and extremes in environment, stress, duress, and other factors.
Demonstrating the value of this Congressionally directed funding, last week, a USA Today article heralded a CDMRP-funded study had found the first successful treatment to alleviate some GWI symptoms.
This success comes on the heels of another USA Today trumpeted CDMRP success identifying a blood test that shows brain injury severity, a critical factor in determining whether troops can be sent back to duty or must continue to recover to prevent further, exponentially significant brain damage.
--Anthony Hardie, Madison, Wis.
MORE INFORMATION: Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, http://cdmrp.army.mil
VCS Helps Win $10 Million for Gulf War Illness Research/"House Passes Defense Appropriations Bill, CDMRPs Retained"
It has been my personal experience that little if any personal benefit has had any positive impact on my life in dealing with GWI.
One year of my life feels like I've aged 5 years with regards to having less stamina and energy.
The VA in Florida where I receive my health care know little if anything about GWI. They have lots of posters on their walls for show but that is about all.
That said the VA is not pushing down what they have learned to hospitals & clinics to help veterans whom have GWI.
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