Thursday, March 15, 2012

Record Level Congressional Support for Gulf War Illness Treatment Funding as Kucinich-Roe Sign-On Deadline is Reached

Written by Anthony Hardie,
March 15, 2012

( - As today's sign-on deadline was reached and the dust settled, all told there were 65 signers to the Kucinich-Roe "Dear Colleague" letter -- by far the largest number ever in the history of the relatively new, treatment-focused Gulf War Illness Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (GWI CDMRP).

Party politics were put aside by the bipartisan supporters of the program who added their signature to the letter supporting FY13 Defense funding for the program, which is narrowly targeted at improving the health and lives of veterans suffering from chronic multisymptom illness popularly referred to as Gulf War Illness (GWI).  The signatories ranged across the entire political spectrum, from liberals like lead author Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) to current and former Tea Party Caucus members like co-lead author Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) and Rep. Walter Jones (D-NC).

And, among the Congressional stars adding their signatures were the Chair and Ranking Minority Member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs -- conservative Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) and liberal Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), as well as Ranking Minority Members of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI); the House Committee on Rules, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY); and the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD-2).

The record level of support is likely the result of a cascade of factors. Scientific legitimization at the highest levels has appeared to lead to new interest in the medical research community, followed by new research findings that have begun unravelling GWI's purported mysteries and have provided early support for assertions that it is likely that effective treatments can be found.  In turn, it seems that hope is growing in the veterans community, perhaps the reason for this surge of renewed activism by veterans and their supporters.

High level government reports from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2008 and the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences in 2010 found that GWI at its epicenter affects as many as 250,000 veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, as well as an indeterminate number of other non-deployed and later deployed veterans at lesser but troubling rates.  The gold standard IOM report also found that GWI is a physical -- not psychiatric -- condition, that it is likely associated with environmental and other factors, and that it is possible that effective treatments can be found -- encouraging news for veterans who had claimed as much all along.

Over the course of the last two weeks, dozens if not hundreds of individual veterans and their supporters contacted House offices in a flurry of requests that resulted in this record number of Members signing on to the letter to the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee, which is expected to take up the Defense Appropriations bill within the next several weeks. A similar outpouring by Gulf War veterans and their supporters was seen last month, with 169 public comments submitted to VA as part of an obscure but Gulf War veteran-related rulemaking process that typical generates less than a dozen such submissions.

In previous years, a parallel bipartisan effort supporting GWI CDMRP funding has been led in the U.S. Senate by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).  A similar initiative for FY13 funding is anticipated soon.


Kucinich-Roe FY13 GWI CDMRP Defense Funding "Dear Colleague"
Alphabetical List of Cosigners 

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2)
Rep. Shelley Berkely (D-NV-1)
Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-9), Vice Chair-HVAC
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3)
Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA-3)
Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1), HVAC, Ranking-HVAC-EO
Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL-3), HVAC
Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO-3), HVAC
Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN-7)
Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA-32)
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI-1)
Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI-14), Ranking-House Judiciary Committee
Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA-53) - HASC, Ranking-HASC-MP
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4)
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO-1), Minority Chief Deputy Whip
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-25)
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN-5)
Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA-51), Ranking-HVAC
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11)
Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24)
Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-TX-20)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-7)
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL-23)
Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI-2)
Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ-12)
Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY-25)
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-2), HAC
Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH-6), HVAC, Chair-HVAC-O&I
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA-4), HASC
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC-3), HASC
Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-3)
Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC-8)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH-10)
Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA-2), HASC
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-9), HAC
Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA-2), HASC, HASC-MP
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-14)
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY-4)
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA-7)
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA-3)
Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME-2), HVAC, Ranking-HVAC-H
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL-1), HASC, Chair-HVAC
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI-4)
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-1)
Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1), HASC, HASC-MP
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY-15)
Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX-16), HASC, HVAC
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA-37)
Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN-1), HA
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD-2), HASC, Ranking-House Intelligence Committee
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-17), HASC
Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP-1)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), Minority Chief Deputy Whip
Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5)
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-3)
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY-28), Ranking-House Rules Committee
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA-12)
Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA-13)
Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH-13), HASC
Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH-3), HASC
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8), Ranking-House Budget Committee
Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN-1), HVAC
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-20), Minority Chief Deputy Whip
Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT-1), Minority Chief Deputy Whip

Key Committee Assignments

Ranking:  Ranking Minority Member

HAC:  House Appropriations Committee
            HAC-D:  Subcommittee on Defense

HASC:  House Armed Services Committee
            HASC-MP: Subcommittee on Military Personnel

HVAC:  House Veterans' Affairs Committee
            HVAC-DAMA: Subcommittee on Disability Assistance & Memorial Affairs
            HVAC-EO: Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity
            HVAC-H:  Subcommittee on Health
            HVAC-O&I:  Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations


Waiting said...

For a lot of us Gulf War Vets, it takes all the strength we can muster and it hurts when we shout.

It hurts a whole lot less when people listen.

Thank you Anthony, and everyone else who spearheaded this effort. I, for one, am very grateful.

Anonymous said...

It's rather interesting that IOM and many Congressional members don't mind using the term Gulf War Illness. But here is a quote from the site that does not want to use the term Gulf War Illness.
This to me clearly demonstrates that the VA & DoD are still in denial and are not on board with wanting to help veterans whom have Gulf War Illness.
Here is the quote and the link:

""VA prefers not to use the term “Gulf War Syndrome” when referring to medically unexplained symptoms reported by Gulf War Veterans. Why? Because symptoms vary widely and therefore, do not meet the definition of a syndrome. A syndrome is a group of symptoms that usually occur together and characterize a certain disease or abnormal condition. That is why VA uses the terms “medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses” and "undiagnosed illnesses" instead of “Gulf War Syndrome.”"

KAL said...

The term illness was very specifically chosen by those who believe it to be psychosomatic because it refers to a subjective experience of ‘ill health’ or ‘unwellness.”

You could say that MUS is a simplifying euphemism,
allowing doctors to use the same term to mean one thing to
colleagues and another to patients and thus conceal some of the conflict in this particularly contentious area.

The link posted by @Matt directs readers to treatment suggestions, such as graded exercise therapy, that are highly contested between researchers. Like the VA, the CDC site is described by some in the same way that @Matt describes the VA and DoD.

91outcomes said...

In actuality, the term "illness" was chosen by the very pro-GWV RAC.

The RAC generally uses the standard Kansas/Steele definition of GWI, which is a physical definition and excludes psychological, psychiatric, or "stress"-related causation.

The 2008 RAC report provides several hundred pages of details, at: