(91outcomes.com - April 5, 2017) -- Nearly one-fifth of the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives this week resoundingly called for continuation of federally funded Gulf War Illness treatment research. The effort came at the request of Gulf War veterans, supported by ten veterans service organizations and led by Veterans for Common Sense.
In an April 3 "Dear Colleague" letter co-led by Rep. Jack Bergman, LtGen, USMC (Ret.) (R-MI) and Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-MP) to the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense, eighty-three (83) cosigners requested Fiscal Year 2018 funding to continue the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP), part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) funded under the U.S. Department of Defense health program.
The GWIRP is a unique treatment development medical research program initiated by Congress in FY06 to support medical research of exceptional scientific merit related to the deployment health effects of the 1991 Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm).
Among the cosigners this year were Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-MI) and Rep. Tim Walz, CSM, ARNG (Ret.) (D-MN), Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee (HVAC). Roe and Walz co-led recent prior years' efforts to renew the program.
A parallel effort is being led in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
The full list of House cosigners is here, and the cosigned House letter is below.
NEED AND SUPPORT FOR THE GWIRP
Landmark reports by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM)[i] (pp. 10, 260-64) and the Congressionally-mandated VA Research Advisory Committee (RAC) on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses[ii] (pp. 1, 4, 5, 13, 78, 83) emphasize that “effective treatments, cures, and, it is hoped, preventions” for GWI can “likely be found,” “…through a concerted national effort and rigorous scientific input.” 2 (p. 10) In addition, important discoveries made by the GWIRP may also help protect current and future U.S. military service members at risk of similar toxic exposures. (RAC, pp. 1, 4, 5, 13, 78, 83; IOM, pp. 10, 260-64.)
ABOUT GULF WAR ILLNESS (GWI)
“GWI is characterized by multiple, diverse symptoms that typically include chronic headache, widespread pain, cognitive difficulties, debilitating fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, respiratory symptoms, sleep problems, and other abnormalities that could not be explained by established medical diagnoses or standard laboratory tests. The population of Veterans affected by GWI is a subset of the nearly 700,000 U.S. Warfighters who served during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Studies indicate that approximately 25-32% of Gulf War Veterans continue to experience symptoms associated with their deployment.”1 “Scientific research . . . supports and further substantiates . . . that Gulf War illness is a serious physical disease, affecting at least 175,000 veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War, that resulted from hazardous exposures in the Gulf War theater.”3 (p.1)
Studies and surveys reviewed in the most recent (2014) RAC report indicated an elevated prevalence of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)3(pp.23-25) and elevated rates of diagnosed migraines, seizures, gastrointestinal conditions, respiratory conditions and skin disorders among Gulf War veterans, and doubled brain cancer3(pp.23-26) death rates among veterans potentially exposed to chemical warfare agents detonated at an Iraqi munitions complex at Khamisiyah, Iraq.
 Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) website, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, U.S Department of Defense (DoD): http://cdmrp.army.mil/gwirp
 Institute of Medicine (IOM), National Academy of Sciences, “Gulf War and Health, Volume 8: Update of Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War,” Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2010. www.nap.edu/catalog/12835/gulf-war-and-health-volume-8-update-of-health-effects
 Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans: Research Update and Recommendations, 2009-2013.” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, May 2014.
[i] Institute of Medicine (IOM), National Academy of Sciences, “Gulf War and Health, Volume 8: Update of Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War,” Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2010. www.nap.edu/catalog/12835/gulf-war-and-health-volume-8-update-of-health-effects
[ii] Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans: Research Update and Recommendations, 2009-2013.” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, May 2014. www.va.gov/RAC-GWVI/RACReport2014Final.pdf
FY18 Defense-CDMRP-Gulf War Illness Research Group Letter (Bergman-Sablan-Roe-Walz) by Anthony Hardie on Scribd