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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jan-Feb RAC Meeting Agenda Distributed: Focus is on New VA GWIs Strategic Plan, Important New Research Findings


(91outcomes.com) - The final agenda for the upcoming January 31 and February 1 meetings of the Congressionally charted VA Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC-GWVI) was provided to RAC members today, and shows the continuing focus on the development of the new VA GWI medical research strategic plan.

Since speaking up in frustration earlier this year about the lack of a true strategic plan to guide VA's medical research for Gulf War veterans' illnesses -- particularly Gulf War Illness (GWI) -- I've been pleased to see the response of VA, the RAC, and the newer Gulf War Steering Committee (GWSC).

There has been a lot of  important work done by the GWSC's nine working groups composed of RAC and GWSC members and leading GWI medical researchers.

The new VA strategic plan on Gulf War veterans' illnesses  is now nearing completion and, as of this writing, is is now squarely focused on developing and providing effective treatments to help improve the health and lives of the hundreds of thousands of Gulf War veterans still debilitated by chronic multi-symptom illness.

During the RAC's next meetings that begin a month from today, our veteran-focused body will target much of its time on further developing the new treatment-focused strategic plan for VA.  The first day's meetings will be joint meetings of the RAC, GWSC, and VA's National Research Advisory Committee, which helps oversee and guide all of VA's wide-ranging research efforts.

The meetings will be rounded out with presentations on VA's Gulf War-related research direction and new medical research findings, including:
  • Research updates from the WRIISC-Washington, DC
  • Brain and neuro-endocrine chemical findings in GWI patients (Dr. Julia Golier, VA-Bronx)
  • GWI disease biomarkers found in cerebrospinal fluid of GWI patients (Dr. James Baraniuk, Georgetown University)
Input from the non-RAC member public is always welcome and generally continues to be both well-received by the RAC and serves to guide the RAC in its mission. Public comments are welcome and encouraged on the issues being addressed during the two days of meetings and any other matter related to the RAC's purview.  Public comments can be provided orally by those attending in person during the scheduled public comment periods, or in writing.  Written public comments for distribution to RAC, GWSC, and VA-NRAC members should be sent via email to rac@bu.edu.

The meetings will be held in Washington, DC at the VA headquarters building complex.  Those wishing to attend via free teleconference should contact rac@bu.edu for instructions.   

The full agenda provided to RAC members today is here:  https://docs.google.com/open?id=1Sas5UyjORc9Jb0mwCQxNfOfvPT1ofYQOtA5l2OytHsHm-Ve8SrgCTbTaLLZQ.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

VA Extends Gulf War Presumptive Period, Public Comments Welcome


(91outcomes.com) - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today published an interim final rule. effective today, extending by five more years the presumptive period for Gulf War veterans' service-connected disability claims related to undiagnosed illnesses and medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illnesses.

“Not all the wounds of war are fully understood,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “When there is uncertainty about the connection between a medical problem and military service, Veterans are entitled to the benefit of the doubt.”

Several "examples" of qualifying disabling conditions are more commonly known as Gulf War Illness or Gulf War Syndrome, along with Fibromyalgia (FM), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGIDs).  

Veterans with service in the Persian Gulf theater of operation between August 1990 and the present who have medical evidence of current and disabling multiple symptoms attributed to these disorders, or not attributable to another known disorder, may qualify for "presumptive" service-connected disability compensation and related benefits under the law.

Earlier this year, VA announced it was proposing rules to extend the presumptive date "through 2018."  However, the final published rule only extends the presumptive period through 2016, a full two years less than VA's earlier announcement.  That announcement remains on VA's website.  

Public comments on the VA's five-year extension of this presumptive period can be made through February 27, 2012.  Written comments on the rule, including concerns as to why the presumptive period was not extended through 2018 as previously announced, can be submitted:
  • ONLINE:  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=VA_FRDOC_0001-1979
  • BY MAIL:  Director, Regulations Management (02REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave., NW, Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420
  • BY HAND-DELIVERY:  Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave., NW, Washington, DC [Letter/Envelope Addressed to: Director, Regulations Management (02REG)]
  • BY FAX: (202) 273-9026
The VA press release is below, followed by the full Federal Register publication of the rule.

Anthony Hardie
Madison, Wis.


===================================


VA: Rules Liberalized for Veterans with Undiagnosed Illnesses

Application Window Extended for Five Years

(VA PRESS RELEASE - WASHINGTON, DC) – Veterans of the Persian Gulf War with undiagnosed illnesses have an additional five years to qualify for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Not all the wounds of war are fully understood,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “When there is uncertainty about the connection between a medical problem and military service, Veterans are entitled to the benefit of the doubt.”

A recent change in VA regulations affects Veterans of the conflict in Southwest Asia.  Many have attributed a range of undiagnosed or poorly understood medical problems to their military services.  Chemical weapons, environmental hazards and vaccinations are among the possible causes.

At issue is the eligibility of Veterans to claim VA disability compensation based upon those undiagnosed illnesses, and the ability of survivors to qualify for VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.

Under long-standing VA rules, any undiagnosed illnesses used to establish eligibility for VA benefits must become apparent by Dec. 31, 2011.  The new change pushes the date back to Dec. 31, 2016.

Veterans or survivors who believe they qualify for these benefits should contact VA at 1-800-827-1000.

Further information about undiagnosed illnesses is available online at:

###


===========

VA Said it was going to extend the Gulf War Illnesses presumptive period for service-connected disability claims by seven years (to 2018).  


Instead, VA only wound up extending it by five years (to 2016).  


VA Webpage Showing Intention to Extend Gulf War Presumption to 2018 (but then only extended it to 2016)
What happened, VA?!  LET'S GET THIS FIXED!




===================================
SOURCE: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=VA_FRDOC_0001-1979  

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 250 (Thursday, December 29, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 81834-81836]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-33222]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

38 CFR Part 3

RIN 2900-AO09

Extension of Statutory Period for Compensation for Certain Disabilities Due to Undiagnosed Illnesses and Medically Unexplained Chronic Multi-Symptom Illnesses
AGENCY: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. ACTION: Interim final rule. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- SUMMARY: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is issuing this interim final rule to amend its adjudication regulation regarding compensation for disabilities suffered by veterans who served in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations during the Persian Gulf War. This amendment is necessary to extend the period during which disabilities associated with undiagnosed illnesses and medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illnesses must become manifest in order for a veteran to be eligible for compensation. DATES: Effective Date: This interim final rule is effective December 29, 2011. Comments must be received by VA on or before February 27, 2012. ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted through www.Regulations.gov; by mail or hand-delivery to Director, Regulations Management (02REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave. NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420; or by fax to (202) 273-9026. (This is not a toll-free number). Comments should indicate that they are submitted in response to ``RIN 2900-AO09--Extension of Statutory Period for Compensation for Certain Disabilities Due to Undiagnosed Illnesses and Medically Unexplained Chronic Multi-Symptom Illnesses.'' Copies of comments received will be available for public inspection in the Office of Regulation Policy and Management, Room 1063B, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (except holidays). Please call (202) 461-4902 for an appointment. (This is not a toll-free number). In addition, during the comment period, comments may be viewed online through the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) at www.Regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy Copeland, Consultant, Regulations Staff (211D), Compensation and Pension Service, Veterans Benefits Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20420, (202) 461-9428. (This is not a toll- free number.) SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In response to the needs and concerns of veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War, Congress enacted the Persian Gulf War Veterans' Benefits Act, Title I of the Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 1994, Public Law 103-446, which was codified at 38 U.S.C. 1117. This law provided authority for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Secretary) to compensate Gulf War veterans with a chronic disability resulting from an undiagnosed illness that became manifest either during service on active duty in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War or to a degree of ten percent or more disabling during a presumptive period determined by the Secretary.
    Public Law 103-446 directed the Secretary to prescribe by 
regulation the period of time, following service in the Southwest Asia 
theater of operations, determined to be appropriate for the 
manifestation of an illness warranting payment of compensation. It 
further directed that the Secretary's determination of a presumptive 
period be made only following a review of any credible medical or 
scientific evidence and the historical treatment afforded disabilities 
for which manifestation periods have been established, taking into 
account other pertinent circumstances regarding the experiences of 
veterans of the Persian Gulf War.
    To implement 38 U.S.C. 1117, VA published a final rule to add 38 
CFR 3.317, which established the framework for the Secretary to pay 
compensation under the authority granted by the Persian Gulf War 
Veterans' Benefits Act. See 60 FR 6660, February 3, 1995. As part of 
that rulemaking, VA established a 2 year, post-Gulf War service 
presumptive period based primarily on the historical treatment of 
disabilities for which manifestation periods have been established and 
pertinent facts known regarding service in the Southwest Asia theater 
of operations during the Persian Gulf War. VA determined that there was 
little or no scientific or medical evidence, at that time, useful in 
determining an appropriate presumptive period for undiagnosed 
illnesses.
    Due to the continuing lack of medical and scientific evidence about 
the nature and cause of the illnesses suffered by Gulf War veterans and 
the inadequacy of a designated presumptive period for undiagnosed 
illnesses, the Secretary established December 31, 2001, as the date by 
which an undiagnosed illness must become manifest for purposes of 
claims based on service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations 
during the Persian Gulf War. In 2001, VA further extended the period 
from December 31, 2001, to December 31, 2006.
    In December 2001, section 202(a) of Public Law 107-103 amended 38 
U.S.C. 1117 by revising the term ``chronic disability'' to include the 
following (or any combination of the following): (a) An undiagnosed 
illness; (b) a medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness 
(such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel 
syndrome) that is defined by a cluster of signs and symptoms; or (c) 
any diagnosed illness that the Secretary determines warrants a 
presumption of service connection. The revised term ``qualifying 
chronic disability,'' has broadened the scope of those health outcomes 
the Secretary may include under the presumption of service connection. 
Under 38 U.S.C. 1117, a chronic disability must still occur during 
service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian 
Gulf War, or to a degree of ten percent or more disabling during the 
prescribed presumptive period following such service. VA amended 38 CFR 
3.317 to reflect these changes. See 68 FR 34539, June 10, 2003.
    As required by Public Law 105-277, the National Academy of Sciences 
(NAS) conducts ongoing review, evaluation, and summarization of the 
scientific and medical literature for peer review regarding the 
possible association between service in the Southwest Asia theater of 
operations and long-term adverse health effects. Due to the 
inconclusive nature of the scientific and medical evidence concerning 
the manifestation period for the subject illnesses, in December 2007, 
VA published a final rule to further extend the manifestation period 
from December 31, 2006 (previously extended), to December 31, 2011. See 
72 FR 68507-01. Additionally, on October 13, 2010, Congress enacted 
section 806

[[Page 81835]]

of Public Law 111-275, which directed NAS to continue to review, 
evaluate, and summarize scientific and medical literature associated 
with Persian Gulf War service and broadly expanded the time frame for 
NAS to complete this research, since military operations in the 
Southwest Asia Theater of Operations continue, including Operation 
Iraqi Freedom, and no end date for the Gulf War has been established by 
Congress. See 38 U.S.C. 101(33).
    In a report published in 2010 titled Gulf War and Health, Volume 8: 
Update of Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War, NAS evaluated the 
available scientific and medical literature regarding the prevalence of 
chronic multi-symptom illnesses in Gulf War veterans. Consistent with 
its prior findings, NAS concluded, based on multiple studies, that 
there is sufficient evidence of an association between deployment to 
the Gulf War and chronic multi-symptom illness. NAS analyzed two 
follow-up studies that surveyed veterans who served in the Gulf War in 
1991 in order to determine whether the increased prevalence of chronic 
multi-symptom illness persisted several years after such service. One 
study, conducted 10 years after the 1991 Gulf War, involved conducting 
detailed examinations and medical histories of veterans deployed to the 
Gulf War and non-deployed veterans of the same era. The study found 
that, 10 years after the 1991 Gulf War, chronic multi-symptom illness 
was nearly twice as prevalent in veterans deployed to the Gulf War 
(present in 28.9 percent of such veterans) than in the non-deployed 
veterans (15.8 percent). The study found that the prevalence of chronic 
multi-symptom illness decreased gradually over time, but remained 
significantly elevated 10 years after service. The other follow-up 
study involved a 2005 survey of veterans deployed to the 1991 Gulf War 
and their non-deployed counterparts of that era. That study found that 
36.5 percent of the deployed veterans reported experiencing symptoms of 
chronic multi-symptom illness in 2005, compared to 11.7 percent of the 
non-deployed veterans. While this report is limited in that it is based 
on self-reports, the results are statistically significant and are 
consistent with the other follow-up report.
    The currently available scientific and medical literature thus 
suggests that, while the prevalence of chronic multi-symptom illness 
may decrease over time following deployment to the Gulf War, the 
prevalence remains significantly elevated among deployed veterans more 
than a decade after deployment. At present, there is not a sufficient 
basis to identify the point, if any, at which the increased risk of 
chronic multi-symptom illness may abate. Further follow-up studies may 
provide additional information relevant to this issue in the future.
    Section 501(a) of Title 38, United States Code, provides that the 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs ``[h]as authority to prescribe all rules 
and regulations which are necessary or appropriate to carry out the 
laws administered by the Department and are consistent with those 
laws.'' Because scientific uncertainty remains as to the cause of 
illnesses suffered by Persian Gulf War veterans and the time period in 
which such veterans have an increased risk of chronic multi-symptom 
illness, and because scientific studies and NAS reviews are ongoing, in 
order to ensure that benefits established by Congress are fairly 
administered, VA is further amending 38 CFR 3.317 to extend the 
evaluation period from December 31, 2011, to December 31, 2016.

Administrative Procedures Act

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs finds that there is good cause 
under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B) to publish this rule 
without prior opportunity for public comment. Absent extension of the 
sunset date in the current regulation, VA's authority to provide 
benefits in new claims for qualifying chronic disability in Gulf War 
veterans will lapse on December 31, 2011. A lapse of such authority 
would have significant adverse impact on veterans disabled due to such 
disabilities. To avoid such impact, VA is issuing this rule as an 
interim final rule. However, VA invites public comments on this interim 
final rule and will fully consider and address any comments received.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This document contains no provisions constituting a new collection 
of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501-3521).

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Secretary hereby certifies that this rule will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 
as they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601-
612. This rule would not affect any small entities. Only VA 
beneficiaries could be directly affected. Therefore, pursuant to 5 
U.S.C. 605(b), this rule is exempt from the initial and final 
regulatory flexibility analysis requirements of sections 603 and 604.

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, when 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, and other advantages; distributive impacts; 
and equity). Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory 
Review) emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and 
benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility.
 
Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) defines a 
``significant regulatory action,'' which requires review by the Office 
of Management and Budget (OMB), as ``any regulatory action that is 
likely to result in a rule that may: (1) Have an annual effect on the 
economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way 
the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, 
the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal 
governments or communities; (2) Create a serious inconsistency or 
otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; 
(3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user 
fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in 
this Executive Order.''
    The economic, interagency, budgetary, legal, and policy 
implications of this rule have been examined and it has been determined 
to be a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866.

Unfunded Mandates

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires, at 2 U.S.C. 
1532, that agencies prepare an assessment of anticipated costs and 
benefits before issuing any rule that may result in the expenditure by 
State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the 
private sector, of $100 million or more (adjusted annually for 
inflation) in any year. This rule would have no such effect on State, 
local, and tribal governments, or on the private sector.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Numbers and Titles

    The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance program numbers and 
titles for this rule are: 64.109, Veterans

[[Page 81836]]

Compensation for Service-Connected Disability.

Signing Authority

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or designee, approved this 
document and authorized the undersigned to sign and submit the document 
to the Office of the Federal Register for publication electronically as 
an official document of the Department of Veterans Affairs. John R. 
Gingrich, Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, approved this 
document on November 28, 2011, for publication.

List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 3

    Administrative practice and procedure, Claims, Disability benefits, 
Health care, Pensions, Radioactive materials, Veterans, Vietnam.

    Dated: December 22, 2011.

Robert C. McFetridge,
Director of Regulation Policy and Management, Office of the General 
Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, VA amends 38 CFR part 3 as 
follows:

PART 3--ADJUDICATION

0
1. The authority citation for part 3, subpart A continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  38 U.S.C. 501(a), unless otherwise noted.

Sec.  3.317  [Amended]

0
2. In Sec.  3.317, paragraph (a)(1)(i), remove the date ``December 31, 
2011'' and add, in its place, ``December 31, 2016''.

[FR Doc. 2011-33222 Filed 12-28-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8320-01-P

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

GWI Research Funding Pre-Announcement from DoD CDMRP

SOURCE: http://cdmrp.army.mil/pubs/press/2011/funding_press_release12.shtml 


NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Department of Defense
United States Army Medical Research Materiel Command
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs

Released: December 28, 2011

CDMRP Research Funding for 2012

The Fiscal Year 2012 Department of Defense Appropriations Act provides research funding for the following peer reviewed programs managed by the Department of Defense (DoD) office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP):
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Research Program - $6.4 million
  • Autism Research Program - $5.1 million
  • Bone Marrow Failure Research Program - $3.2 million
  • Breast Cancer Research Program - $120 million
  • Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Research Program - $3.2 million
  • Gulf War Illness Research Program - $10 million
  • Lung Cancer Research Program - $10.2 million
  • Multiple Sclerosis Research Program - $3.8 million
  • Neurofibromatosis Research Program - $12.8 million
  • Ovarian Cancer Research Program - $16 million
  • Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program - $12.8 million
  • Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program - $50 million
  • Peer Reviewed Orthopaedic Research Program - $30 million
  • Prostate Cancer Research Program - $80 million
  • Spinal Cord Injury Research Program - $9.6 million
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program - $5.1 million
Comprehensive Program Announcements are expected to be released during winter/spring of 2012. The announcements will include detailed descriptions of funding mechanisms, evaluation criteria, submission requirements, and deadlines. Each Program Announcement may be downloaded from the Grants.gov website (http://www.grants.gov), the CDMRP website (http://cdmrp.army.mil), and the CDMRP eReceipt website (https://cdmrp.org) upon its release.

Requests for e-mail notification of the Program Announcement releases may be sent to help@cdmrp.org.

After the Program Announcement is released and prior to the deadline, a Pre-Application (a Letter of Intent or Pre-Proposal) is required, and must be submitted through the CDMRP eReceipt website (https://cdmrp.org). Some required forms can also be found on this website. Full applications must be submitted through the Grants.gov website (http://www.grants.gov).

If further funding opportunities become available, additional announcements will be released on the CDMRP website. For more information about the CDMRP, previous awardees and Program Announcements, as well as other CDMRP-sponsored Programs and research highlights and videos, please visit the website at http://cdmrp.army.mil.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Response to Misleading Blog Post on GWI Funding




A new blogging outreach efforts included a misleading article this week related to the recent CDMRP GWI funding issue.  (SEE:  http://vabenefitblog.com/new-research-for-gulf-war-syndrome-approved/#comment-1641)

The following was my response:

=========


I would like to correct several misleading statements in this article.

First, this funding is not "different than recent ventures".  This particular program has been funded by Congress each year since FY06 (except FY07, when there was only a partial continuing budget).  Funding levels are detailed in this article:  http://www.91outcomes.com/2011/12/military-medical-research-programs.html

Next, the research attribution is wildly incorrect.  First, the causation suggestion was by the Congressionally chartered U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses (RAC-GWVI), on which I am honored to serve, and was contained in its Nov. 17, 2008 report (available online free for the excellent read at:  http://www.va.gov/RAC-GWVI/Committee_Documents.asp).

Rather than as this article incorrectly states, the RAC's actual statements regarding causation by the listed chemical (organophosphates) were not nearly as definitive as this article states, the insecticides involved were not limited to "sprays", and did not rule out a number of other potential causative factors among the array of known hazardous exposures known or believed to have been experienced by 1991 Gulf War troops.

Having heard countless directly involved medical researchers make statements that they believe effective treatments are, indeed within reach, I do fully agree with the statement that this important, peer-reviewed, treatment-focused DoD CDMRP research is, "giving promise that the work being done isn’t in vain."

The statement that "one in four" Gulf War veterans has developed the listed symptoms is also not entirely accurate.  In actuality, current RAC and IOM estimates are that *between* one-fourth and one-third (a substantially larger number) continue to suffer chronic multi-symptom illness symptoms.  The IOM's actual estimate works out to be 250,000 of the 696,842 Gulf War troops continue to suffer from CMI. Therefore, the "or" in the long list of symptoms is also misleading since the definition of CMI requires one to suffer from multiple symptoms in order to meet the definition.

Finally, I deeply respect and revere Jim Binn, and will remain eternally grateful to him for his unpaid efforts supporting Gulf War veterans.  However, the statement (perhaps a misstatement?) regarding a strong Congressional commitment to Gulf War veterans is incomplete.

Earlier this Fall, the U.S. Senate utterly and abjectly failed Gulf War and countless other veterans when nearly one-third of its members voted earlier this Fall -- on 30-0 bipartisan basis in the Senate Committee on Approprriations -- to *eliminate* this and nearly every other critically important and largely uniquely focused Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).  Like most informed, engaged, and involved members of the Gulf War veteran advocacy community, I'm deeply relieved and grateful for the efforts of U.S Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh.), U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud (D-Maine), and a substantial number of their House colleagues, who worked hard to end up with a bipartisan 2/3 floor vote this Summer to fund the CDMRP GWI program at $10 million -- the ultimate funding level for this program determined in Conference Committee.

However, the INEXCUSABLE, ABJECT FAILURE of the U.S. Senate -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- must not be whitewashed away. Were it not for the conservative House, this program would have died entirely, along with countless other equally important CDMRP military medical research programs.

And, while I'm relieved and grateful, this legislative victory is certainly no reason to celebrate.  The result of the U.S. Senate's abject, INEXCUSABLE failure is that two out of three broad inter-institutional research efforts currently in the works that all show great potential for unravelling major portions of better understanding and treating GWI, *WILL* DIE THIS YEAR.

Had the U.S. Senate acted, had either House of Congress followed the recommendation of the clear, thoughtful recommendations of both the RAC and the revered IOM and funded the program at between $25 and $40 million as recommended, this tragic outcome in a long line of tragic outcomes negatively affecting the largely forgotten but very large GWI veteran-patient community could have been easily avoided.  Six of the other CDMRP programs exceeded $25 million in funding.  Twelve of the 23 funded CDMRP programs exceeded GWI funding.

In short, Gulf War veterans should be relieved that they weren't *entirely* forgotten in this omnibus Congressional spending frenzy, but should rightfully hold their U.S. Senators accountable for the abject failure that nearly led to the demise of the GWI and countless other critically needed CDMRP's, and will now result in the untimely death of two of the currently pending, highly promising three consortia research efforts already initiated.

In short, this could have been much worse, and the result is somewhat of a relief.  And, I'm forever grateful to those House Members who did stand up and support Gulf War veterans. But, we must not forget the one-third of House Members who voted AGAINST this program, and the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee members for their abject and utterly unacceptable failure to care for this large cohort of war veterans who bore the battle and they have simply chosen to forget.

Anthony Hardie
Madison, Wis.
www.91outcomes.com - Health and News for 1991 Gulf War Veterans

Poor Sleep, Common in Gulf War Veterans, is Risk Factor for Heart Disease

SOURCE:  http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/headline_health/sleep_key_cardiac_health/2011/12/15/423058.html?s=al&promo_code=DBB7-1


Dr. Chauncey Crandall: Sleep Is a Key to Cardiac Health
Thursday, December 15, 2011 6:20 PM
By Ashley Martella and Sylvia Hubbard
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Most of the major risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol, obesity, and high blood pressure, are well-known, but one factor is often overlooked — too little sleep. "Sleep is a silent risk factor for cardiovascular disease," Dr. Chauncey Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Florida, tells Newsmax Health.
"When your body doesn’t get proper sleep, your body is under constant stress," says Dr. Crandall, author of Newsmax's Heart Health Report newsletter. "All of us need between eight to ten hours a night. With less, your body is under constant stress, and that leads to the development of high blood pressure and heart disease."
It's true that some people can function with less sleep, says Dr. Crandall, but on average, most people need between eight and ten hours every night — even older adults. In addition, they need to be in a regular sleep cycle of going to bed at the same time and waking at the same time each day. "The body likes predictability," he says.
Sleep apnea affects the quality of sleep and puts stress on the heart. "With sleep apnea, the body goes through a cycle and stops breathing, especially at night, snorting and waking up suddenly," Dr. Crandall says. The heart slows, but when the person startles and wakens, the heart races. "The heart is never relaxed," he says. "It's slowing down, it's speeding up — the heart is never at rest." The cycles of slowing, then speeding, stress the heart.
An effective way to deal with sleep apnea other than using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine is to lose weight. "When you gain weight, you gain weight along your windpipe and that causes the back of the throat to close during the sleep cycle," says Dr. Crandall. "It can be reversed by losing weight."
Instead of opting for sleeping pills to deal with insomnia, try changing your late-night sleeping habits, says Dr. Crandall. "Part of insomnia is the way we live our lives when we get ready for bed — we watch TV, we play video games, we're on the computer — we're getting the brain so excited we can't settle down. Stay away from computers and TV, read a quiet book, turn the lights down, and your sleep cycle will return to normal."
Another deterrent to a good night's sleep is a full stomach. "Many of us go to bed with a full stomach, and it will keep us up," says Dr. Crandall. "Ideally, you should have your dinner at a regular time every night between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM and not eat anything later. Go to bed on an empty stomach: When your stomach is empty, you'll sleep better."
Dr. Chauncey Crandall: Sleep and Heart Health
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Vegas Police on the Defensive Following Police Killing of Unarmed Disabled Gulf War Veteran

SOURCE: http://www.lvrj.com/news/las-vegas-officers-dismayed-defensive-about-latest-shooting-135818453.html


Las Vegas officers dismayed, defensive about latest shooting

  • DAVID STROUD/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
DAVID STROUD/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
BY BRIAN HAYNES
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Posted: Dec. 18, 2011 | 1:59 a.m.
Updated: Dec. 18, 2011 | 9:15 a.m.
Las Vegas cops are on the defensive.
In the past two weeks, they've endured a critical Review-Journal investigation of officer-involved shootings, one of the most troubling shootings in Metropolitan Police Department history and calls by civil rights groups for a federal investigation.
"The cops feel like they're under attack," one veteran supervisor said. "They feel like they're being attacked by the media. They feel like they're being attacked by the ACLU and NAACP."
The Review-Journal spoke with several current officers to gauge how the confluence of negative events and publicity is playing out within the organization. They agreed to speak only if their names were not used.
They talked about feeling like an agency under siege, the specter of looming federal oversight and the problematic shooting that brought it all to a head.
Monday's shooting of Stanley Gibson left many officers second-guessing the decisions and tactics that ended with the death of the disabled Gulf War veteran.
Gibson, 43, was off his anti-anxiety medication and stricken with paranoia as he tried to find his new apartment Sunday night. In his confusion he ended up at an apartment complex a few blocks away, prompting suspicious residents to call police about a prowler.
Officers confronted Gibson in his car and pinned his Cadillac between two patrol cars while they tried to get him to surrender.
After a 30-minute standoff, police fired a nonlethal beanbag shotgun round through a window of Gibson's car with the plan to pepper spray and arrest him. But their plan might not have been understood by officer Jesus Arevalo, a nine-year department veteran, who reacted to the beanbag shot by firing seven shots from his AR-15 semiautomatic rifle into the passenger side of Gibson's car.
Gibson, who was unarmed, was the 12th person shot and killed by Las Vegas police this year -- a record number for the agency.
The shooting prompted Sheriff Doug Gillespie to hold a rare same-day news conference and set his agency abuzz with questions about the decisions made that night.
"Why not just isolate and call SWAT?" the veteran supervisor said. "The guy is pinned and can't get anywhere. Why push it?"
A patrol supervisor said SWAT officers should handle any situation involving a barricade.
"It was just a terrible plan," he said. "And it's frustrating because it was such a bad plan. Even if that plan works, it's a stupid decision."
He said no one knows what Arevalo saw or heard before he fired because he wasn't giving statements to investigators.
"We don't know why he fired, but if he wasn't aware of the plan and he thought someone was firing at him, whose fault was that?" he asked.
Like last year's controversial shooting of Trevon Cole, where mistakes were made before anyone pulled a trigger, the supervisor was most critical of the tactics before the gunfire.
"There was a breakdown by our leadership here," he said. "In any tactical situation like that, the goal is to save someone's life. And that didn't happen."
A veteran patrol officer summed up the thoughts of many within the department.
"It was a terrible shooting," the officer said. "Nobody said it's a good shooting. ... Comments were made that this is the one that is going to bring in the feds."
That statement was almost prophetic. Hours after the officer made it, the local chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People publicly called for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the Police Department's use of deadly force.
In their calls, both groups cited the Review-Journal's five-part series into officer-involved shootings.
The yearlong investigation identified a rising number of shootings by Police Department officers and a reluctance by the agency to hold problem cops accountable.
Many officers dismissed the series as a one-sided attack on them and their colleagues. But some thought it shed light on many long-simmering issues that need to be addressed.
The veteran patrol officer said the newspaper series contained a lot of interesting information but shared a common feeling among police when it comes to the news media.
"You guys are so quick to point out all the faults of the agency, but not nearly as quick to point out the good things with the agency," the officer said.
The officer said excessive use of deadly force is not a problem within the department, but certain shootings "raised eyebrows," such as last year's controversial shootings of Erik Scott and Cole.
The officer said there is a mentality, especially among younger officers, of resorting to the gun sooner rather than later. Older officers tend to use less lethal force and more hand-to-hand combat.
"Back in the day, we would do whatever we had to do to get suspects in custody," the officer said. "If their head bounced off the ground, so be it."
The veteran patrol officer said it's better to have a suspect's head bounce off the ground than to use deadly force.
The officer welcomed a federal investigation of the department but said any probe should go beyond officer-involved shootings to include the agency's day-to-day operations and the effects of "oppressive leadership" on officer morale.
The veteran supervisor said outside scrutiny will help fix the things that need fixing while showing that, for the most part, the Police Department's policies, procedures and training are solid.
"We don't have anything to hide," he said.
One patrol cop who has used deadly force on the job said he was frustrated with recent events. Most patrol officers were still processing the newspaper's series when the Gibson shooting happened, he said.
"We felt attacked by the R-J and now this happens, and you're just shaking your head," he said. "We don't want to lose the public's trust, but we know this looks really bad. I think the officer made a tragic mistake that he'll live with for the rest of his life, but now the rest of Metro has to deal with that."
Review-Journal reporters Mike Blasky and Antonio Planas contributed to this report. Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281.