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Saturday, April 30, 2016

NEWSMAX: CoQ10 Helps Gulf War Syndrome

Editor's Note:  The article is reporting on a treatment study by Dr. Beatrice Golomb of the University of California-San Diego that was funded by the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) administered by the U.S. Department of Defense Health Programs under Congressional direction.

The CoQ10 utilized in the study is pharmaceutical grade, and not the variety sold at Walmart, Costco, etc.   The ubiquinone version of CoQ10 was used in the study.  One pharmaceutical grade option, manufactured by Jarrow Formulas, is sold at a substantial discount from the retail price by the online nutraceutical giant Swanson Vitamins, at:  http://www.swansonvitamins.com/jarrow-formulas-inc-q-absorb-co-q10-100-mg-120-sgels

The study used a single 200mg dose of CoQ10, taken once daily early in the day (CoQ10 can be energizing and can disrupt sleep if taken too late in the day).

Two new studies have now been funded in order to advance understanding of CoQ10.  The first is an expansion on Dr. Golomb's original study and includes adding additional nutraceuticals with the goal of further enhancing the benefit in Gulf War Illness.  It was also funded by the GWIRP (CDMRP).  

The second is in the very early stages of preparation, and is a broad, Phase III clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of CoQ10 in a much larger study population of Gulf War Illness patients.  It will be conducted at multiple VA medical centers in the U.S.

Once these studies begin recruiting, 91outcomes will post articles about to how to participate.  

-91outcomes.com

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SOURCE:  NewsMax, by Chauncey Crandall, M.D., April 30, 2016

http://www.newsmax.com/health/chaunceycrandallmd/gulf-war-syndrome-coq10-pesticides/2016/04/28/id/726293/


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CoQ10 Helps Gulf War Syndrome

By Chauncey Crandall, M.D.Thursday, 28 Apr 2016 03:20 PMMore Posts by Chauncey Crandall, M.D.
Researchers are finding that CoQ10 may be helpful for treating U.S. Veterans afflicted with the set of chronic conditions that have become known as “Gulf War Syndrome,” or “Gulf War Illness.”

Gulf War Syndrome is associated with exposure to chemicals such as pesticides, or pills given to soldiers to protect them from possible nerve agents. These chemicals can damage mitochondria, which generate the energy our cells need to do their jobs.

When these powerhouses of the cells are disrupted, it can produce symptoms compatible with those seen in this illness.

Symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome include those found in chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and functional gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional dyspepsia, and functional abdominal pain syndrome, among others.

San Diego School of Medicine researchers conducted a study on 41 veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. Over the course of the study, half received either a high-quality CoQ10 supplement or a placebo.

The researchers found that 80 percent of those who received 100 mg of CoQ10 had an improvement in physical function, and that the improvement correlated with the degree to which CoQ10 was increased in the bloodstream.

The study was published in the journal Neural Computation

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Roskamp Researcher Awarded CDMRP Grant for Inflammatory, Metabolic Biomarkers

This study is funded by the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), which are carried out under specific Congressional direction by the Department of Defense.

-91outcomes

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SOURCE: Roskamp Institute "Brain Waves", April 25, 2016


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Three Year Research Grant Awarded


Congratulations to Laila Abdullah, Ph.D., Scientist I at The Roskamp Institute, [Sarasota, Florida] who has received notification of a research grant award for her latest Department of Defense submission as part of its Gulf War Illness Research Program.  The project, “Identification of Lipid Biomarkers of Inflammation and Metabolic Disturbances in Gulf War Illness (GWI)”, received an Excellent rating.   Overview of GWI: Research studies conducted over the last decade provide compelling evidence that Gulf War Illness (GWI) may have been caused by exposure to chemicals, such as an anti-nerve agent pyridostigmine bromide (PB) and different types of pesticides (GW agents). These studies also show that brain structures that are involved in processing and storing memory, as well as brain pathways involved in controlling pain and fatigue, are altered in GW veterans with this condition. Even now, nearly 25 years later, veterans with GWI continue to experience these complex symptoms and this illness remains difficult to diagnose since the current GWI diagnostic process is limited to using information on self-reporting of symptoms.  As such, there remains a need for developing minimally invasive blood-based disease markers (biomarker) of GWI. The goal of this current study is to identify novel biomarkers of GWI which can assist physicians in providing an objective diagnosis of GWI so appropriate clinical evaluations and treatments can be provided to GW veterans with this condition. Another key goal of this project is to identify biomarkers of GW chemical exposure and symptom profiles so care and treatment can be tailored individually for each veteran with GWI.

Scientists working in the field of GWI research continue to provide strong evidence that this condition is connected with irregular responses by blood cells which generally combat irritations or other injuries to the body (inflammation). This research grant project will use mass spectrometry technology to study the potential problem with breaking down of fats in the brain (lipids) that are specific to inflammation and metabolic disturbances associated with GWI in order to determine if they can be used as biomarkers of GWI. The existing expertise and collaborations between the Roskamp Institute and the Boston GWI consortium will expedite successful translation of this endeavor so that appropriate biomarker tools are made available to the clinicians in order to assist them with diagnosing GWI and ensuring that appropriate medical plans are developed for the care and treatment of veterans with GWI.

Monday, April 25, 2016

VA Hosting Gulf War Veteran Roundtable, Researchers, Town Hall Meeting this Week


(91outcomes.com) – The U.S. Department of Veterans (VA) Affairs Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses (RAC-GWVI) will hold its next meetings on Thursday and Friday, April 28-29, 2016 in Washington, DC.

On the first of its two days of meetings, the RAC will hear from Gulf War veterans, representatives of Gulf War veterans, and representatives from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences discussing two recent scientific reports.

Dr. Stephen Hauser, chairman of the RAC, will lead off the meeting, followed by Dr. Herman Gibb of Gibb Epidemiology Consulting.  Gibbs, a member of the IOM panel that authored the controversial, "Gulf War and Health, Volume 10," report released February 11, 2016, will present its major findings.  The report's recommendations to end broad swathes of Gulf War research have been met with criticism by Gulf War researchers, advocates, veterans, and members of an investigative Congressional panel.    

Dr. Barbara Vickery of the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine will present a December 2015 IOM report that provided recommendations for VA to design a study of neurological conditions suffered by Gulf War veterans.  

In the afternoon, Dr. Hauser will lead a roundtable panel of Gulf War veterans and veteran representatives to receive recommendations on RAC committee priorities.  Invited panelists include:  Kimberly Adams, a new RAC member; Carlos Fuentes, Senior Legislative Associate, Veterans of Foreign Wars;  Anthony Hardie, former RAC member and Director, Veterans for Common Sense; Marylyn Harris, veteran entrepreneur speaker and new RAC member; Shurhonda Love, National legislative staff, Disabled American Veterans; Jeffrey S. Nast, new RAC member; Denise Nichols, MAJ (Ret.), R.N., National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition; and, George S. Webb, COL (Ret.), former Executive Director, Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs.

The roundtable will be followed by RAC committee discussion with panelists and IOM presenters. 

On the second day of meetings, three researchers will present their findings.  Dr. Bennett Porter of the Naval Health Research Center will present the Millennium Cohort Collaboration.  Dr. Erin Dursa of VA’s Post-Deployment Health Service will present the, “Gulf War Veterans Longitudinal Study” she led, which has implications for veterans’ benefits.   Finally, Dr. Dawn Provenzale of VA’s Cooperative Studies Program (CSP) Epidemiology Center in Durham will present CSP 585, a Gulf War biorepository project.   VA Office of Research Development (ORD) staff Dr. Victor Kalasinsky and Dr. Robert Jaeger will also present an update of VA-ORD’s Gulf War Research Portfolio.  No similar update of ongoing epidemiological research by the VA Office of Public Health is scheduled.
Each day will conclude with an opportunity for public comment.


Town Hall Meeting after RAC meetings

Following the RAC meeting on Friday, VA is hosting a town-hall style listening session for public comment on recent recommendations made to VA by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in its report “Gulf War and Health, Volume 10: Update of Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War, 2016” (http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/reports/2016/gulf-war-and-healthvolume-10.aspx ). 

VA notes that, “all comments are welcome, but VA specifically seeks those that address the recommendations made on pages 8-11 and pages 264-272 of the IOM report. 



Public Participation

Two public comment periods are available during the RAC’s meetings, at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, the first day of meetings, and at 11:45 a.m. on Friday, April 29, the second and final day of the two-day meeting.  Times are approximate and could be sooner or later depending upon the duration of earlier agenda items.  

For those unable to attend the RAC meetings in person, you can listen in whole or part via teleconference.   The call-in number is toll-free 1-800-767-1750 and the access code is 56978# .
The RAC proceedings will be aired live online using Adobe Connect at: http://va-eerc-ees.adobeconnect.com/racgwvi

More information on the VA’s Town Hall meeting following the RAC meetings is available in this 91outcomes article.



About the RAC

The Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (RAC-GWVI) was created by Congress in 1998 through the Persian Gulf War Veterans Act of 1998, and first appointed by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi in January, 2002.  

The mission of the Committee is to make recommendations to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on government research relating to the health consequences of military service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War.



If you’re Attending

The RAC meetings are on Thursday, April 28, 2016, from to 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on Friday, April 29, 2016, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Town Hall meeting is on Friday, April 29, 2016, from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m.

In person:  Both the RAC and Town Hall meetings will be held at the Capital Hilton (Pan American Room), 1001 16th St, NW, Washington, DC 20036.  [ Map ]  Note that this is a different location than previous meetings.  The Capital Hilton is located just a few blocks north of the White House on 16th St. NW, between K and L streets.

The Farragut North Metro station (Red line) is the closest metro station to the hotel, one long block to the west at 17th and K streets.   The Farragut West Metro station (Orange/Blue/Silver Lines) is a half-block further, on the southeast corner of 17th and I (“eye”) streets.  The McPherson Square Metro Station (Orange/Blue/Silver Lines) is two blocks to the Southwest (use the Vermont Ave. exit) at 15th and I (“eye”) streets. 

Via Teleconference:  The call-in number is toll-free 1-800-767-1750 and the access code is 56978#.  The same call-in number will be used for both the RAC meetings and the follow-on Town Hall listening session. The RAC proceedings will be aired live online using Adobe Connect at: http://va-eerc-ees.adobeconnect.com/racgwvi

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

US MEDICINE: Advocates Describe Difficulties in Getting Gulf War Illness Diagnosis

SOURCE:  U.S. Medicine, April 2016, written by Sandra Basu

http://www.usmedicine.com/agencies/department-of-veterans-affairs/advocates-describe-difficulties-in-getting-gulf-war-illness-diagnosis/



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Advocates Describe Difficulties in Getting Gulf War Illness Diagnosis 

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Legislators Agree That Research on Causes Needs to Continue
By Sandra Basu
WASHINGTON — Veterans are experiencing a high number of denials of Gulf War Illness-related claims at least partly because the condition “presents itself in a way that is not conducive to the traditional VA disability claims process,” an advocacy group told lawmakers last month.
“Gulf War Illness is an inherently difficult condition to diagnose and treat,” said Aleks Morosky, legislative service deputy director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW). “This is because it presents itself as a host of possible symptoms common to many veterans, rather than a single condition that is clearly identifiable and unmistakable.”
Morosky made his comments at a hearing on VA’s disability claims process for Gulf War Illness held jointly by two House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs subcommittees.
At the hearing 25 years after the Persian Gulf War, lawmakers expressed concern that Gulf War veterans are being unfairly denied disability compensation. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, cited a 16% approval rate and 84% denial rate for claims of Gulf War veterans for what is known as “undiagnosed illnesses” and “chronic multisymptom illnesses,” both presumptive conditions under current law.
“VA often seems to deny these claims, because it demands to know the specific cause for the illness,” Coffman pointed out. “Yet, under the law, presumptive conditions do not require causality because they are presumed to have been caused by service in the Gulf War.”
Source: American Jnl of Epidemiology Volume 174, Issue 7
Source: American Jnl of Epidemiology Volume 174, Issue 7
Diagnosing Conditions
Advocates described how a physician’s diagnosis for symptoms — making a veteran’s illness no longer fit in those categories — changes everything.
“Here is the catch. The moment that the veteran is diagnosed, it is virtually impossible to receive service connection on a presumptive basis, because the condition is no longer ‘undiagnosed,’” explained Zachary Hearn, American Legion Deputy Director for Claims, Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation.
Hearn further stated that his group suspects that medical professionals sometimes might incorrectly assign veteran’s symptoms to aging or even malingering, rather than to their Persian Gulf War service.
For his part, Morosky said the VFW is concerned about the process that veterans must undergo in making their claims. When making the claim for undiagnosed illness, the veteran must list the symptoms experienced, which might seem unrelated to one another, he said. As a result, VA assigns separate disability benefits questionnaires (DBQs) for each symptom, and separate exams are scheduled.
The practice of “assigning separate DBQs for each symptom being claimed in connection with undiagnosed illness has the effect of promoting diagnoses, even when those diagnoses are minimally supported,” Morosky said.
Rep. Ralph Abraham, MD, (R-LA), chairman of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, asked panelists how the VA can improve the quality of examinations for veterans.
“As a doctor, I can understand that VA examiners are more familiar with evaluating a single condition that is clearly identifiable and unmistakable,” Abraham stated.
Morosky suggested that, instead of using separate DBQs for each symptom and scheduling separate exams, veterans’ symptoms need to be looked at holistically by one physician.
“When symptoms are claimed by a Persian Gulf War veteran that are consistent when taken together with Gulf War Illness, a single Gulf War Illness DBQ [should] be given to a single physician who is trained to look for these symptoms and to look for them holistically, so that the physician can say, ‘Yes, this is consistent with Gulf War Illness,’” he explained.
When asked by lawmakers, VA Deputy Under Secretary for Disability Assistance David McLenachen said the agency would look into the DBQ issue.
“Based on what I am hearing, first we have to confirm that that is a real problem that veterans are experiencing,” McLenachen responded. “If it is, then it is something we have to fix.”
Source: American Jnl of Epidemiology Volume 174, Issue 7
Source: American Jnl of Epidemiology Volume 174, Issue 7
Gulf War Illness Research
Advocacy groups also called for  more research into the causes of Gulf War Illness by VA, an especially current concern in light of a recent Institute of Medicine report urging that the agency cease searching for the cause of Gulf War illness and focus instead on monitoring deployed veterans and treating the health problems associated with the conflict. .
“The real question is, ‘Why hasn’t [VA] done the epidemiological work on this population in a serious way that would give us some of the answers by comparing those who served in the Gulf vs. those with the same military occupational specialty who served elsewhere during that timeframe?” said Rick Weidman, executive director for Policy and Government Affairs at Vietnam Veterans of America. “They haven’t done that in any kind of serious way,”
Lawmakers agreed that more research is needed to help with diagnoses.
“I think all of us here would like to know what is going on with this Gulf War Syndrome a lot better. A physician doesn’t like a vague diagnosis,” emphasized Rep. Dan Benishek, (R-MI), who is a physician. “We want to be able to do a blood test and it be ‘yes or no.’ We don’t have that here.”
VBA Compensation Service Senior Advisor Bradley Flohr said VA has a cohort research advisory committee that meets on a regular basis and recommends research.
“VHA has an office of Research and Development; they look at the recommendations,” Flohr told legislators. “If they have funding to do the research that is being requested, they do that research.”
Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), however, said she was concerned with the IoM’s recent recommendation, adding, “I think it may be something we can look into in a bipartisan way of whatever needs to be done to keep this research moving forward.”

Monday, April 18, 2016

FIBROMYALGIA NEWS TODAY: Pain Sensitivity in Mice with Fibromyalgia Reduced with Natural Compounds

Editor's Note:  Fibromyalgia is a presumptive condition for VA claims purposes for Gulf War veterans.  The medical and pathophysiological relationships between fibromyalgia and the chronic widespread pain common in many Gulf War Illness patients remains unclear.

-91outcomes

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SOURCE:  Fibromyalgia News Today, Magdalena Kegal reporting, April 18, 2016

http://fibromyalgianewstoday.com/2016/04/18/natural-compounds-resveratrol-and-rice-oil-reduce-pain-sensitivity-in-fibromyalgia-model/


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Pain Sensitivity in Mice with Fibromyalgia Reduced with Natural Compounds Resveratrol, Rice Oil

Researchers in Brazil have found that simultaneously administering resveratrol and rice oil has beneficial effects on pain sensitivity and depression in a mouse model of fibromyalgia. The study adds to the evidence that reactive oxygen species might contribute to fibromyalgia symptoms and might lead the way to new therapeutics against the complex condition.
Modeling a disease such as fibromyalgia in animals is not a straightforward task, given the numerous manifestations of the disease. Recently, however, rat and mouse models of fibromyalgia have been developed, modeling the aspects of widespread pain and depression.
The study, Coadministration of Resveratrol and Rice Oil Mitigates Nociception and Oxidative State in a Mouse Fibromyalgia-Like Model, researched the effects of two rather uncommon substances in this mouse model – resveratrol and rice bran oil.
Resveratrol is a plant-derived substance present in grapes that has been shown to hold numerous pharmacological characteristics, including anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and pain-harnessing properties. Researchers believe these to be the result of anti-oxidant effects, reducing the harm done by an overproduction of reactive oxygen species.
Rice bran oil has similar properties, and while few studies have investigated its effects, it is suggested to have similar actions, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties.
The research team from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, exposed mice to the drug reserpine, triggering a state of widespread sensitivity, reacting with pain to normally non-painful stimuli, as well as more pain to painful stimuli. Mice also develop symptoms similar to depression.
The publication in the journal Pain Research and Treatment shows that when the team treated mice with the combination of resveratrol and rice oil, the animal’s pain sensitivity almost returned to normal levels.
Resveratrol on its own could reduce pain symptoms but possibly to a lower extent than the combination. On the other hand, rice oil alone had no effect on pain sensitivity. Mice treated with the combination also displayed fewer symptoms of depression.
To explore whether the effects could be explained by changes in oxidative stress, researchers measured reactive oxygen species in the cerebrospinal fluid of the animals, noting that the treatment, including rice oil alone, was associated with a substantial drop in the levels of oxidative compounds.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

FREDERICKSBURG.COM: Gulf War veteran is fighting again - Battling Multiple Sclerosis

SOURCE:  Fredericksburg.com (Virginia), Kristin Davis reporting, April 16, 2016

http://www.fredericksburg.com/news/local/gulf-war-veteran-is-fighting-again/article_dfb50eb5-6990-5a29-b33b-e7f08cfa5490.html




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Gulf War veteran is fighting again

HEALTH: BATTLING MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
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Posted: Saturday, April 16, 2016 12:15 am
King Fahd Airport suddenly went dark.
Army Staff Sgt. Geri Davis found herself alone in a latrine, a pinpoint on an airfield flung across the vast Saudi Arabian desert. She hit the floor, readying her rifle for whatever might come.
It was her third night in the Middle East—and the second time she thought she might die.
“We thought we were going to be killed as soon as we got off the plane,” said Davis, then a licensed practical nurse with the 15th Evacuation Hospital at Fort Polk, La.
It was January 1991. They’d come to the Middle East under the threat of biological and chemical warfare.
Davis, like most, was not a combat veteran. War was the last thing on her mind when, in 1983 at the age of 27, she joined the Army Reserves.
After high school, she’d gone to work for the federal government in Washington. She’d toiled as a legislative aid and a stenographer and typist.
She wanted more.
“Be All You Can Be,” the Army had urged in a catchy jingle aired on TV, and her future was set. Money for college. A chance to be part of the medical field that fascinated her.
She trained to become a combat medic and LPN and enjoyed every minute.
Then, seven years later, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Diplomatic efforts failed to resolve the crisis. On Jan. 16, 1991, the U.S. led an international coalition to oust Iraq from the tiny, oil-rich country thrust as suddenly onto the global stage as Davis and her comrades were thrust into conflict.
On the floor of the latrine, in a country she’d never had occasion to consider, minutes passed. The lights came back on. Davis gathered herself.
Over the next four months in the desert, she would not fear for her life again. The war was over almost as quickly as it had begun. The coalition had been victorious.
“When I came back, I kissed the ground and thanked the Lord,” Davis said.
The most significant battle of her life was still ahead.
NOT A SCRIMMAGE
More than 600,000 American service members deployed to the Middle East in support of a war that began and ended 25 years ago. Of those, 292 did not come home.
“There was danger at every point,” Davis said recently from her home in Stafford County, where a small bookcase is dedicated to her time there. “Don’t let people tell you it was nothing or it was a scrimmage. That was our life.”
The 15th Evacuation Hospital arrived just south of the Iraqi border on Jan. 25, 1991—just more than a week after the coalition began its bombing campaign, according to a 2001 U.S. Army Medical Department Journal.
Within six days, the hospital was ready to treat its first patients. By Feb. 7, it was fully operational, with 400 patient beds, eight operating rooms, intensive care units and laboratory and radiology services.
Most beds remained empty. But by spring, 1,000 patients would be treated there.
Davis was put in charge of a morgue that, thankfully, remained empty, she said. She tended to shrapnel wounds and friendly fire incidents. One soldier she helped treat had stepped on a land mine.
She listened to her patients talk about their families back home, looked at photographs carried halfway around the world.
She helped keep the hospital safe and sanitary. When sirens pierced the silent night, she did what she felt she must to protect panicked patients.
“People would scream. I’d have to knock them out to put on their masks,” Davis said. “The whole purpose was to come back alive and bring back alive whoever else we could.”
She served guard duty when she was needed, lying on a cot in the dark with a radio in one hand and a rifle in the other.
“A lot of Iraqis were trying to get on post, not to kill us, but because they were hungry,” Davis said.
She watched a car barrel across a barrier and refrained from firing, she said. “They wanted some food. They were not a threat. Saddam Hussein was starving them.”
She worked 12-hour shifts and showered every other day, scrubbing herself and her dusty clothes beneath the spigot.
The sun beat down by day. When night fell, the black desert seemed to stretch all the way to the stars.
Sometimes, Davis wondered if all of this was real or if she’d somehow ended up in an episode of “M*A*S*H.”
In this war, soldiers still waited on letters from home.
Davis’ first piece of mail came 45 days after she arrived. It was a card from her mother, shaped like a medal with the words, “I done real good.”
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
They all had.
“Their skill, professionalism and courage inspired America and brought back a sense of honor and prestige to our military that continues to this day,” the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association writes on its website. “America had braced itself for a new Vietnam, but instead the Iraqi army was defeated after a month of bombing and a 100-hour ground campaign. Generals like Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf became instant heroes. America embraced the military with an enthusiasm not seen since World War II.”
Back home, Davis marched in victory parades. She accepted flowers and medals—a Bronze Star among them.
She put into a scrapbook postcards from the Middle East, a Polaroid of herself on top of a camel, newspaper articles her mother had clipped telling the story of women at war.
“We were with our male counterparts,” Davis said. “Women were pilots, women were driving trucks. Women were doing everything. We were all together. It didn’t matter. We were there with each other to help each other survive.”
The 15th Evacuation Hospital personnel left by big, yellow school bus. She has pictures of that, too, of local children smiling wide smiles and waving.
“We felt like we were heroes,” Davis said. “We did something good for mankind. Mission accomplished.”
A NEW FIGHT
Davis returned to her reserve unit with the 2290th U.S. Army Hospital.
For the next five years, she fulfilled her military duties whenever she was called upon. She worked in the private and public sector in a variety of jobs, many of them medical—as an EMT and a CPR and first aid instructor, in a nursing home and a prison.
Davis was discharged in 1996 as a sergeant first class. Her health was not what it had been, she said, and she wanted to go out on top.
Less than a year after returning from the Gulf, a blood clot in the leg put her in the hospital for a week. She temporarily lost her vision. She passed out.
The diagnosis came at the end of 1999: Multiple sclerosis.
As she battled symptoms that would ultimately put her in a wheelchair, Davis watched from the sidelines as the U.S. went back to war in the Middle East.
“When 9/11 happened, I went through a crisis a little bit. We felt we’d taken care of everything. We thought that was it,” she said. “It was heartbreaking.”
Davis met with a counselor at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which was increasingly tending to her physical health.
By 2010, she was a resident at a Walter Reed National Military Medical Center nursing home. So began the darkest period of her life.
“It was prison,” Davis said. “Like a black hole.”
Two years into her four-year stay there, she learned she qualified for an adaptable housing grant from the VA. The paperwork was endless. But in 2014, she moved into a brick home with an open floor plan on Runyon Drive in Stafford.
She filled walls and shelves with inspirational sayings.
“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have,” reads one.
The Army taught her many things, she said. “It didn’t teach me how to live as a disabled person.”
She gets by with the help of home nurses. With the same grit that carried her to war and back.