WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Gulf War Illness is the "signature" health problem of 1991 Gulf War veterans, affecting an estimated 24-33% of the nearly 700,000 who served, according to a new report of the Institute of Medicine, but researchers say its recommendations, "turn science on its head."
"The previous IOM report correctly concluded that the illness is not psychiatric and likely results from the interplay of genetic and environmental factors," said James Binns, former chairman of the federal Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses. "This report turns that science on its head."
"This report recommends stopping research on the health effects of Gulf War exposures and focusing instead on 'mind-body interconnectedness'," said Gulf War veteran Anthony Hardie, who chairs a treatment research program funded by Congress. "It's the same old government theme from the 1990's to deny what happened and deny care and benefits -- just when research to understand the illness and identify treatments is finally making real progress."
The report noted two studies showing an increased risk of brain cancer mortality associated with the wartime demolition of a vast Iraqi chemical weapons depot at Khamisiyah – one conducted by the IOM itself – but then concluded this evidence was "insufficient/inadequate."
"This is a profoundly sad message for Gulf War veterans with brain cancer and their widows who can't currently get benefits from VA," said Hardie, who also serves as director of Veterans for Common Sense.
"IOM committees should not be made up of former VA officials and their friends," said Rick Weidman, Executive Director for Policy and Governmental Affairs for Vietnam Veterans of America. "It's outrageous that the VA Undersecretary from the 1990's who began the policy of minimizing Gulf War Illness was on this committee, or that the committee chair was on record before she was appointed saying you can't say what caused it. Half the committee was psychiatric advocates. It's exactly how the effects of Agent Orange were denied for thirty years after Vietnam. We intend to seek legislation to prohibit these corrupt practices."
"The science is unequivocal, if viewed honestly and in its totality: Toxic exposures were responsible," said Dr. Beatrice Golomb, Professor of Medicine at the University of California-San Diego and former scientific director of the Research Advisory Committee. "But the IOM doesn't look at all relevant studies. This 'don't look, don't find' practice has been a consistent problem in IOM Gulf War reports."
"Veterans who were more exposed to chemicals - particularly pesticides, PB (a nerve agent pretreatment pill), and perhaps nerve gas -- are more likely to be ill, and to have more severe illness. Moreover, exposure to related chemicals in civilian settings has produced similar chronic health problems," said Dr. Golomb.
SOURCE Veterans for Common Sense
People ask me why I carry such a bitter disdain for the government propaganda program against Gulf War veterans. I think this article pretty much explains it.
I would like to offer any of those IOM committee members to come and spend just one day with me. If they can spend 24 hours with me and still tell me all the things that I have to deal with are still in my head then I'll concede. However, I am absolutely certain that there isn't a responsible doctor on this planet that would tell me that all I endure is psychological. ("Responsible" would pretty much exclude every doctor at my VA Medical Center. I'd be better served by a bunch of baboons. At least they wouldn't belittle me by telling me that Gulf War Illness doesn't even exist.)
What *is* psychological is my hatred and disgust for individuals and organizations that belittle my disease and dismiss my disability because they either can't or refuse to understand the medical model of Gulf War Illness. Reading this article literally made me nauseous. My psyche is damaged far worse by this sort of unfounded rhetoric than anything from my deployment to Desert Storm.
From where I sit as I write I can see the 21 plus bottles of medications that I take daily, the heating pad that I use regularly, the wrist and knee braces along with compression gloves that I use during flare-ups and a myriad of other things ranging from memory foam neck pillows to lists that help keep my often confused mind in some semblance of order. I look at all these things and I have to ask myself, if this is all in my head, why do I need all these things? Wouldn't the five years of therapy I've gone through cleared things up?
I can't wish away my physical disabilities and neither should agencies like the IOM.
Peter, hang in there. This sounds so much like what has happened with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis, which has many similar symptoms. Dr Nancy Klimas studies both. I'm sorry for what you're going through and totally understand your anger and mistrust. Take care.
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