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Friday, December 20, 2013

Gutted Research Advisory Committee to Meet in January: Public Call-In Information Provided


(91outcomes.com) - The Congressionally chartered Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC) has released public call-in information for its upcoming meetings in Washington, DC, on January 7-8, 2014.


The call-in number for the RAC meeting is 800-767-1750, and the Participant Code is 35378 followed by the # key.

According to the RAC's agenda, most of the January meetings will be taken up by committee discussion on its upcoming report.  

There will also be two medical research updates by the research team of Dr. Nancy Klimas, based at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.  The treatment-focused Florida Gulf War Illness research consortia was funded through a substantial grant from the GWI Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).  A second GWI CDMRP-funded research consortia, based at Boston University, is headed by Dr. Kim Sullivan, who also serves as the RAC's assistant scientific director (though is not presenting at the upcoming meeting).  Dr.'s Klimas and Gordon Broderick are scheduled to present their updates on Jan. 7.  

Recent staff-driven changes retaliating against RAC's outspoken advocacy for ill Gulf War veterans included VA's gutting of the treatment-focused mission, scope, structure, and composition of the RAC, and narrowing the RAC's focus to VA-only research.  However, Dr. Melissa Forsythe, COL (Ret.), program director for the GWI CDMRP, housed under the U.S. Army's Material and Medical Research Command (USAMMRC), has been scheduled by the RAC to provide a CDMRP update to the RAC, also on Jan. 7.  

The VA is also scheduled to provide a research update on its own "Gulf War" research portfolio.  The VA has been under fire in recent years for dramatically cutting its Gulf War research budget, improperly bulking up its "Gulf War research" portfolio with millions of dollars of non-GWI research, and gutting and whitewashing a first-ever Gulf War Illness Research Strategic Plan developed by a consensus of three VA advisory committees.  

In June, all the Gulf War veterans on the panel walked out of the last RAC meeting in protest of VA's  mishandling of Gulf War Illness research and sweeping changes to the RAC.  VA inaction on those concerns led veteran panel members Marguerite Knox (LTC, ARNG) and Anthony Hardie to resign in protest, "rather than continuing to serve on a  VA committee that VA continues to ignore."  

Among the VA-selected replacements is Jim Bunker, a lighting rod of controversy in the Gulf War veteran community and who is unopposed to VA's sweeping changes to the RAC.   

-Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes.com

23 comments:

Unknown said...

Jim Bunker, a lighting rod of controversy, only to those like Mr. Hardie who in 2009 has stated the time for the NGWRC to be helping the gulf war veterans has came to an end. That it was time for the NGWRC to "fold its' flag" and go away. If the NGWRC did as Mr. Hardie had asked thousands of Gulf War veterans would not have been helped since that meeting in KY.

82ndjmpr said...
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Keith said...

As far as Mr. Bunker, also the sole owner of the NGWRC, started by a few to further research into then Gulf War Syndrome. Since the folding of the flag the organization has been purchased by Mr. Bunker and only does claims work to a very few select people. A contribution is also requested when the claim is completed. Mr. Bunker has only been on the hill one time since he has become the CEO and sole proprietor of the organization. Yes it does have a panel of members all assigned by Mr. Bunker. As far as Mr. Bunker being on the panel I feel it will be a very detrimental to the ongoing research that RAC is involved with. Mr. Bunker truly lacks the leadership capabilities that will be required of him and his ties to the VA are to conspicuous as many believe there are ulterior motives on his part.

82ndjmpr said...
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Dr. Dave said...

Ron, you're a great defender of Jim Bunker. It seems many people were sent out to be great defenders of Jim in the past, and once people got tired of hearing from them, Jim would kick them to the curb and get a new spokesperson. That's one reason he appears to be such a lightning rod, is because he allegedly took advantage of so many people in the past, then they felt like he abandoned them for his own self-interests. At least that's the read I gather from talking to the folks in the community who had worked with the organization in the past.

While he may do his claims agent work on the side, it is true he is the CEO of NGWRC, so it's not a membership-elected (members must pay to join, right?), rotational position any more, as it used to be? Also, from looking at the Board of Directors, I see him, his wife, and what appear to be other family members, friends, or allies on the board, so he pretty much controls the entire organization, including the directors who decide his CEO salary. Would that be accurate?

In any case, the NGWRC just has the appearance of a private, commercial organization run largely for the benefit of the CEO. Does the organization itself help GWI sufferers? Undoubtedly. The Claims Handbook, even though it seems a little out of date, is quite helpful. But it would be more honest to make it very clear upfront that Jim is acting as a separate entity from NGWRC as a claims agent when the organization offers services to help with claims for GWI veterans. It's a little disingenuous to try and put Jim Bunker or the NGWRC into the same category as the VFW, DAV, American Legion, or other Veteran Service Organizations or National Service Officers who work for those VSOs. They are hardly in the same category.

I believe Anthony's comments about Jim Bunker being a "lightning rod in the Gulf War Veteran community" are pretty clearly accurate. I also haven't seen anything to indicate his comments about Jim Bunker being "unopposed to VA's sweeping changes to the RAC" being false. Those changes aren't just removing Anthony Hardie and replacing him with Jim Bunker, but altering the required rotational personnel changing mechanisms and timing, and changing the charter so significantly that the RAC no longer meets the functional requirements with which it was originally charged by Congress when first established in law. In effect, the RAC has now become the VA's little puppet committee to act however and say whatever the VA wants it to say, whenever the VA wants the RAC to say it.

I'm saying nothing about Jim Bunker the person, because I don't know him at all except from his posts in Facebook (which aren't always the most diplomatic). I'm only addressing the NGWRC and its CEO, and my understanding of the organization and its leadership learned from its website, people I've spoken with who had been in the organization, some research on my own, and your posts (which are always thoughtful and insightful, by the way). To me, though, this doesn't look like a very positive step for the Gulf War Veteran community, myself included.

Thank you for your time.

82ndjmpr said...
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Unknown said...

Jim Bunker does not get paid from the NGWRC. So for anyone to say so is very much misinformed. While all of the leaders that ran the NGWRC before was paid by the NGWRC, Jim Bunker is the only one that is not. In this past year 98% of all funding to run the NGWRC did come from the Bunker's.
The NGWRC is given inkind office space internet and other operating expenses too.

Mark L said...

Hey I thought this was for all Gulf War Veterans. lets get to the cure and help them. Robin M Lemmons 50% Gulf War Veteran and Grenada .

David LaShell said...

I am very pragmatic and a realist in my thoughts, I want to have all Gulf War Veterans working together but as I have seen over the past three years there is separatist in our struggles. Jim Bunker happens to be one of those along with many others, but he really sticks out among others. I have been so displeased with my personal contact with him that I "cannot trust" his ideals on how to proceed. In the meeting of the RAC 7-8 January the NGWRC elected to state research is not finding answers and should be replaced with the old Gulf War Review that was stopped in 2008. I must "disagree" with this suggestion as per some of the most extraordinary researchers now making published articles showing the "how" of our damages. This may not be answers but it is the beginning of possible treatment programs.

I might give an example by using scientific research in the cancer programs, where treatments are available but researches still cannot give an answer to what causes cancer. We have made such advances in putting cancer into remission rather than letting people die. Research has now gained usable data on Gulf War medical issues and by using the RAC as a forum to bring them together the shared information opens up new research opportunities.

My prayer and hopes are that Mr. Bunker and his President of NGWRC Ron Brown, will see they have a place with the Gulf War veterans when it does come to helping in compensation and claims but leave the medical and researchers alone to do their job. If they work together to support new and useful presumptive's, veterans can then appreciate their efforts.

Unknown said...

David you must have missed something. The NGWRC never said "research is not finding answers and should be replaced with the old Gulf War Review" as you have in your statement.
The NGWRC stance is that the research needs to be placed in the Gulf War Review, so the veterans will know about it. the ones that was done. Research helping the veterans and the ones not ending well too so the veterans know just what happened to the studies they was in. To keep everything in the open, you can go to the NGWRC.NET and look this up and see before posting this slander.

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Keith said...

I was in attendance when the second statement was haltingly read. As it wasn't read verbatim, as a contradictory statement was interjected into it by the reader, Mr. Brown. "Why not take research dollars and use them to do the "Gulf War Review". This would be in direct violation of appropriation standards set by the government. Va does have a veteran outreach department which has been doing it's job. One does need to sit and read the plasma screens which in some facilities takes 20 minutes. This all sounds like a group that hasn't done it research by physically monitoring and interviewing the appropriate personnel. The pages on VA.gov, cover in explicit detail everything. I believe the FW2 needs further work and needs to be rethought. I feel our service hasn't been forgotten, generally those who say this only served a short time on active duty and weren't career or professional soldiers. Many times the soldier has forgotten for many years, waking up later in life later and not remembering that they had been honoured. Welcome to the VA system where all have served. One more thing before I leave this blog is to Mr. Brown, the gulf medal that you incorrectly identified as "Gulf War Medal" that is missing is know by directive of DOD as the "Southwest Asia Service Medal",

82ndjmpr said...
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Keith said...

I was there if you hadn't noticed as you never did say anything to the other veterans at breaks, such Julie Mock, Denise Nicoles, and myself on the second day. Guess we aren't vets in the eyes of the NGWRC. Lead on into your obsess, the NGWRC is shooting themselves in their feet.

Keith said...

Why is Mr. Bunker a "Lightning Rod"of controversy? These are only my observations.
1) Midnight calls to those he disagrees with
2) Inability to manage the NGWRC... losing the documents that were on file prior to him "taking" the reigns
3) Assigning a person to the office of President without their knowledge
4) Not filing the appropriate tax returns for the organizations for two years
5) Investigation of the organization by the Attorney General of Kansas (only heard through the grapevine)
6) Spouse is on the board which and is construed by the public as a conflict of interest
7) Spouse donates 95% of the NGWRC budget in the form of office space and telephone (can also be construed as only a tax right off)

These are only a few of the items that can make up Mr. James Bunker as a "Lightning Rod" of controversy as well as tarnishing the NGWRC reputation as an organization of and for the Gulf War vet as set up by the founders which Mr. Bunker is not one of them. Indeed this IS the Year of the "Gulf War Vet". Proclaimed by we the vets with no support of any organization. This is and will be pure grass roots as the NGWRC and others are the ones that have forgotten us the Gulf War vet.

Stay to claims you do serve a great cause there and do a good job inn this field.

82ndjmpr said...
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Unknown said...

I have EVERY document for the NGWRC even the infighting from the start, the back stabbing and so on Keith. The Tax paperwork has always been done right. you all do not understand the differences of a FY year and a calender year and when the NGWRC FY year ends. Any one can send in a IG complaint like Ms. Boozer did and it was found un-founded. That is no problems was found in the NGWRC. we had a clean books.
There was no one as president not asked first. David W. included. As Gale was never asked.
My wife can be on the board as many are in many other NFP. I would not care to even guess just how many do have a spouse on the board. There are no laws that say we cannot and the bylaws do not prevent it. even our DAV chapter here in town has a Husband and wife team.
Yes, we do donate 95% of the operating income to the NGWRC that is not just the office space and phone lines (we do not write it off on the taxes as we have more write off then we need) we also give a lot of our $$$$$.
As a 501C I do not have to tell.

Keith said...

My last reply is only one word - ETHICS

If you need a definition I refer you to The Webster Dictonary

Kansasvet said...

Keith you may need to look up that word for one veteran does not call a 100% disabled veteran of TWO different combat zone. One that jumped into a combat zone when the plan Ron was on was under fire and his friend was killed still on it, faking a leg problem.
I do not take kindly to any veteran making fun of other veterans disabilities as you did to Ron.
Next you may want to go and look at you DD214 for those of us in Desert Storm was given more than JUST ONE Medal, ore was that the only one you got? You should look at what he was talking about before attacking as a true leader would. Those that attack with only part of the true get burned as you just did, or is it egg on your face? So why not go back and look at ALL of the Medals and also how they had showed the ones before desert storm and you might learn something.

Ethics is telling the true and not spinning things something you and your friends are doing a lot of and it only does injustice to our veterans. Tell the veterans that only congress can change the law so that the other veterans that was awarded the SWA can also be covered by USC 38 Section1117. this was something covered by the NGWRC long before I was in charge, as I was only a board member doing the books. Paul S. can recheck it with his bosses at the law office he is at while taking a time off from picking over the claims that will be the best to do for them; but he has been told this before too.
Why would I want to come up to you and talk after all of the lies you have posted on the net? I have more impotent things to do. Research to read and a report to look over I need to help the veterans of the gulf war and not worry about your disinformation any more.
Your child's play is just that, unbecoming of anything you once say you was. Yes you do need to find out just what that word is Keith and so do your friends. stop making fun of others disabilities no matter if it is their way of walking, hearing, teeth and what for you and or your friend my not know why that person is that way.
Please take that to heart if not anything else.