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Friday, April 25, 2014

Senators Rockefeller and Baldwin Call for Dramatic Funding Increase for Gulf War Illness Treatment Research



(91outcomes.com) - Two prominent members of the U.S. Senate today called not just for the continuation of a unique federal Gulf War Illness treatment research program, but for a dramatic increase in its funding.

In a powerful request for support from other Senators issued this morning, U.S. Senator John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV (D-W. Va.) and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) note the "dramatic progress" of the treatment-focused Gulf War Illness Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) and call for its continuation with $25 million in funding -- a twenty-five percent increase over this year's budget.

Rockefeller and Baldwin also are calling for other Senators to cosigner their "Dear Colleague" letter, which makes a powerful case for continuing and expanding upon the early successes of Congressional funding support for the Gulf War Illness CDMRP program: 
"This support has borne successful pilot studies, clinical trials, and collaborative research plans for promising treatments and diagnostic markers developed by multidisciplinary teams from several scientific institutions. CDMRP-funded researchers have been responsible for the first successful symptom-reducing treatments of Gulf War Illness. 
"Most recently, CDMRP-funded researchers at the University of California-San Diego published a study linking impaired mitochondrial function to Gulf War Illness. These findings have serious implications for the identification and treatment of this disease. 
"The CDMRP Gulf War Illness program, which is succeeding where others have failed, only exists through the action of Congress.  This competitive, peer-reviewed program – open to any doctor or scientist – is the only national program addressing this critical issue. We strongly believe that continued investment through CDMRP makes a significant difference in the quality of life for ill Gulf War veterans and their families. Furthermore, this program is not just vital to the improvement of the health of Gulf War veterans, but also in protecting the health of current and future American forces at risk of similar exposures."
Both Senators have historic ties to Gulf War veterans' health issues.  In 1998, Sen. Rockefeller's leading efforts ensured the enactment of the Persian Gulf War Veterans' Act of 1998, landmark legislation that provided the framework for healthcare, research, treatment, and benefits for veterans of the 1998 Gulf War and beyond.  During his 30 years in the U.S. Senate, he has been a staunch and tireless supporter of Gulf War and other veterans' issues.

In 2001, then-Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin authored a letter to then-Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi, calling for the implementation and appointment of the long-overdue Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC) statutorily mandated in the landmark 1998 legislation, which VA staff had failed to implement.  She has been a cosigner for Gulf War Illness treatment funding every year following the Gulf War Illness CDMRP' inception and has made veterans' and military service member  issues a key component of her legislative efforts.

Rockefeller and Baldwin note that continued funding for the Gulf War Illness CDMRP has the support of a number of veterans’ service organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), AMVETSDisabled American Veterans (DAV), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), and Veterans for Common Sense (VCS).

On Monday, (April 28, 2014), the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC-GWVI) is expected to issue its final report on the results of and prognosis for Gulf War Illness treatment research.  The RAC's last major report, in 2008, found that Gulf War Illness is "real", debilitating, complex, affects as may as one-third of the 697,000 veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, and is linked to Gulf War toxic exposures.  

In 2010, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report echoed the RAC's findings regarding the impact and scope of Gulf War Illness and found that treatments likely can be found with an adequate national research effort.  Those findings were reemphasized in a related IOM report issued earlier this year.  

The Gulf War Illness CDMRP is funded outside the VA.  It must be specifically funded by Congress each year in order to continue.  

The deadline for other U.S. Senators to cosign the Rockefeller-Baldwin "Dear Colleague" for Gulf War Illness CDMRP funding is May 1, 2014.   A full list of U.S. Senators and their contact information is located on the U.S. Senate webpage.

The full text of the cover letter and Rockefeller-Baldwin Dear Colleague letter are below.


-Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes.com 




****


April 25, 2014 - 11:17 a.m.

Senators Rockefeller and Baldwin would like to invite their colleagues to join them in sending the attached letter to the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee in support of continued funding for Gulf War Illness research within the Congressional Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) for FY 2015.

Gulf War Illness is a serious disease affecting at least 175,000 veterans suffering from symptoms ranging from fatigue, cognitive and neurological complications, gastrointestinal issues, skin problems, chronic widespread pain, and persistent headaches. The Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) within the CDMRP is the only national competitive, peer-reviewed program addressing the issue of Gulf War Illness. Investment in this research has already seen substantial success, as CDMRP-funded researchers have been responsible for the first successful symptom-reducing treatments of Gulf War Illness, and most recently, CDMRP-funded researchers at the University of California-San Diego published a study linking impaired mitochondrial function to Gulf War Illness.This program is vital to the improvement of the health of Gulf War veterans and in protecting the health of current and future American forces at risk of similar exposures.

The deadline for this letter is COB Thursday, May 1 If you have questions or would like to sign on to the letter, please contact [Seth Gainer in Senator Rockefeller’s office or Danielle Gilliam-Moore in Senator Baldwin's office].

Thanks,

Seth Gainer
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV)

*****


April 24, 2014


The Honorable Richard J. Durbin
Chairman
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Thad Cochran
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Durbin and Ranking Member Cochran:

We would like to thank you for your support of the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) in past years, and we respectfully request your continued support through providing $25 million for the CDMRP to fund Gulf War Illness treatment research in the Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations bill. 

In a 2010 report, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recognized that Gulf War Illness was a serious disease affecting at least 175,000 veterans and called for a major national research effort to identify treatments. The symptoms of this disease are varied but typically include debilitating fatigue, cognitive and other neurological complications, gastrointestinal issues, skin problems, chronic widespread pain, and persistent headaches. The scientific community responded to this report with a marked increase in the quality and quantity of proposals submitted to the GWIRP, which has seen dramatic progress during the past several years. 

This support has borne successful pilot studies, clinical trials, and collaborative research plans for promising treatments and diagnostic markers developed by multidisciplinary teams from several scientific institutions. CDMRP-funded researchers have been responsible for the first successful symptom-reducing treatments of Gulf War Illness. Most recently, CDMRP-funded researchers at the University of California-San Diego published a study linking impaired mitochondrial function to Gulf War Illness. These findings have serious implications for the identification and treatment of this disease.

The CDMRP Gulf War Illness program, which is succeeding where others have failed, only exists through the action of Congress.  This competitive, peer-reviewed program – open to any doctor or scientist – is the only national program addressing this critical issue. We strongly believe that continued investment through CDMRP makes a significant difference in the quality of life for ill Gulf War veterans and their families. Furthermore, this program is not just vital to the improvement of the health of Gulf War veterans, but also in protecting the health of current and future American forces at risk of similar exposures.

Continued funding for this program has the support of a number of veterans’ service organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Veterans for Common Sense.

Given its clear successes, this effective program warrants solid continued support, even in a time of fiscal challenge. We respectfully request that you continue the commitment to this key research on Gulf War Illness by providing the sufficient amount of funding for the Gulf War Illness Research Program within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs for the upcoming year.

Sincerely,


Senator John D. Rockefeller IV        Senator Tammy Baldwin
+ <Cosigners>

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