Friday, June 15, 2012

Corrections to Factually Incorrect Law Firm Article about GWI Funding

Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

( -- A Florida-based law firm aimed at helping veterans has gotten an article about the federal government's Gulf War Illness medical research funding completely wrong, leading to confusion among many Gulf War veterans.

Here's the response back to them, which corrects the many errors:

This is regarding your recent article about Gulf War Illness funding, which is riddled with factual inaccuracies, some of which are 180 degrees opposite of what actually happened.
I understand your firm -- like several others that work to help veterans with their claims -- is providing this kind of news as a service. However, this level of factual inaccuracy begs the question, Is this an indication of the level of service your firm provides to veterans?
First, the Barrow amendment -- and Rep. Barrow himself -- never mentioned or addressed anything related to Gulf War Illness or Gulf War veterans.  The Barrow amendment was merely a proposed (failed by the vote noted in the article) funding increase to the VA's overall research budget to match the *overall VA research* funding levels requested in the VSOs' Independent Budget.   
Contrary to what your article says, the VSOs did not recommend a specific dollar amount for GWI funding (for GWI CDMRP funding in the DoD appropriations bill), and their mention in the context of GWI funding is incorrect and entirely false.  
The amount passed by the House matches the VA's FY13 overall research budget request, which decreases funding for GWI research from $15m to $4.862m.   However, neither Rep. Barrow nor the House specifically mention GWI research (or any other type of research) in their funding, with the exceptions noted below.
The numbers you have included in this article, about some increase from $10m to $25m, are entirely unrelated to the VA budget, the VA-HUD appropriations act passed by the House, or the Barrow Amendment to FY13 VA-HUD.   The House Appropriations Committee previously passed out of committee the FY13 Defense Appropriations Act, which contained $10m in GWI medical research funding under the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).  Gulf War veterans' goal is $25m.  The full House has not yet taken action on that bill, which is under a veto threat from the White House.  Your article confuses VA research funding with DoD GWI CDMRP research funding; the two are entirely separate, distinct, and unrelated.
Furthermore, the bill's accompanying report *DID* include the direction to VA to prioritize FGID research, and burn pits.  These were not part of the failed Barrow amendment.  So, your article has it 180 degrees backwards, these measures *passed*, not failed as your article states.
Finally, the funding addressed by VA-HUD and the Barrow Amendment is FY13, not "2012".  
It is rare that I see a short article with so many completely false statements and getting it completely wrong.  I understand you're trying to help veterans, so I ask you all the more urgently, please, get your facts straight.  I've been busy correcting Gulf War veterans who saw your article and believed it.  You do a great disservice to veterans when you write patently false news like this.  
If you have any questions or wish to discuss, please feel free to contact me.  I'm one of the people who remain closely engaged in GWI advocacy issues on the Hill.  As such, I'm happy to help you get your facts straight before putting something awful and damaging and completely factually inaccurate like your article above.  
Thank you.
Anthony Hardie
Madison, Wis.

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