Thursday, March 28, 2013

URGENT ACTION ALERT: Contact Congress Now to Fund Gulf War Illness Treatment Development Program for One More Year

( - The annual push for Gulf War Illness treatment medical research funding has again begun, with the usual short initial deadline.  Calls, emails, and faxes are needed immediately to ensure this unique, unparalleled, critically important annual program continues next year.  

The deadline is Friday, April 5, 2013 for Members of the U.S. House of Representatives to sign on to a "Dear Colleague" request to fund the Gulf War Illness Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) for another year.  This year's effort is being led by Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) and Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME).  The text of the letter is here.  

Specifically, the push is to ask Members of the U.S. House of Representatives to sign onto the "Roe-Michaud Dear Colleague Letter" for FY14 Gulf War Illness CDMRP funding.  

The GWI CDMRP has again been in the national news recently as a program that is working.  

  • One CDMRP-funded researcher, Dr. James Baraniuk of Georgetown University, has found additional, objective markers of brain damage in Gulf War Illness patients.  
  • And Dr. Beatrice Golomb, whose CDMRP-funded research found that CoQ10 can help relieve pain and some other Gulf War Illness symptoms, continues not only with additional CDMRP-funded research, but is one more of this growing chorus of scientists and clinicians who, despite ongoing VA mismanagement, delays, denials, and obfuscation, recognize and are working towards the goal that effective Gulf War Illness treatments can likely be found. 
  • And, even more GWI CDMRP research highlights are on the CDMRP website.

This year's GWI CDMRP funding push is unusual in that it comes just a few days after FY13 funding was finally approved.  Last April, the initial request for funding was led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who is no longer in Congress, and Rep. Phil Roe, M.D., who is again co-leading this year's effort.  The effort received a significant boost with the support of House Veterans' Affairs Committee (HVAC) Chair Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL).  

During last April's effort, $10 million was approved through the initial House appropriations process. An additional $10 million, for a total of $20 million, was approved by a Kucinich-led amendment when the full appropriations bill came to the House floor.  That early $20 million level proved to be key, as it was sustained throughout the duration of an arduous appropriations process that only just concluded a few days ago.

"The effort was successful because countless Gulf War veterans and other advocates contacted their Members of Congress to ask that they sign on in support."

Last December, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME), Ranking Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee and co-leader of this year's GWI CDMRP funding effort, reacted to the release of two new studies by Dr. Robert Haley and Jim Tuite that found strong links between Gulf War chemical exposure and Gulf War Illness.

"The announcement of [Haley and Tuite's] findings is encouraging news to the veterans who have endured over 20 years of inconclusive research into Gulf War Illness and ineffective treatments," said Michaud. "These studies provide critical new insights and represent a light at the end of a long tunnel for those who served in the Gulf War. Moving forward, our priority must be making sure veterans that were exposed get the care and benefits they deserve. I look forward to working with Chairman Miller and the VA toward this goal."
Following the abrupt 2009 VA cancellation of funding for Dr. Haley's unique Gulf War Illness research projects, an action that deeply angered engaged Gulf War veterans, some of Haley's team's projects have also found funding through the GWI CDMRP.  

These are but a few of many examples that there is no shortage of talented medical researchers who stand ready, willing and able to help achieve the national goal to develop effective treatments for Gulf War Illness, a task at which VA has failed.  

By contrast, last June, the Congressionally chartered committee tasked with oversight of the federal government's  Gulf War research issued a "no confidence" finding in the Gulf War Illness research efforts of the VA.  As noted in a March 13, 2013 story:
"...the group of experts and advocates wrote a damning assessment of VA’s failure to “mount even a minimally effective program, while promoting the scientifically discredited view that 1991 Gulf War veterans have no special health problem as a result of their service.” 
Constituents who recognize the critical importance of the unique, treatment-focused, results oriented GWI CDMRP program should contact their elected representative in the U.S. House as quickly as possible to request their Congressperson sign on to this "Dear Colleague", noting the hard deadline of April 5th.   

The Senate funding effort is separate and will come later.  

-Anthony Hardie



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