Monday, May 15, 2017

**URGENT ACTION ALERT** -- 5 Minutes to Help on Gulf War Illness in the SENATE

ACTION NEEDED:   Very specific -- Ask your U.S. Senator to sign onto the "Baldwin "Dear Colleague Letter for Gulf War Illness treatment research funding" (FY18)  

URGENT DEADLINE for sign on's:  Monday, May 22, 2017 (U.S. Senate only)

READ BELOW for more details before calling.

HAS YOUR Senator COSIGNED?  Scroll down for the current list of cosigners (check to see if yours is signed on yet before calling their DC office to request they sign on) AND IF THEY HAVE NOT PLEASE CALL THEM TO ASK THAT THEY DO!


( -  An effort has been launched in the U.S. Senate to continue the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) to develop treatments for Gulf War Illness.  Led by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), a longstanding champion of this program,  this year's push in the Senate is for continued funding for the unique, treatment-focused medical research program aimed at improving Gulf War veterans' health and lives.  

The GWIRP is part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) within the Defense health program.  

VA and scientific estimates show that Gulf War Illness affects between one-fourth and one-third of the veterans of the 1991 Gulf War.  The consensus among Gulf War Illness medical researchers is increasingly clear: With a concerted national effort, effective treatments can likely be found.

In the House, the bipartisan effort for renewed funding was led this year by Rep. Jack Bergman, LtGen, USMC (Ret.) (R-Mich.) and Rep. Gregorio Sablan (I-N. Mar. Is.), and supported by Rep.’s Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) and Tim Walz, CSM, ARNG (Ret.) (D-Minn.) with a total of 83 cosigners. 

Baldwin serves on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, including the subcommittees that determine funding for the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs (VA) and has been a longstanding supporter and lead for funding for the program. 

Information below shows what you can do in just five minutes to support this critically important national effort to help our nation's Gulf War veterans.



2.  Call his or her Washington, DC office [not their office(s) back in their district or home state] , and ask for the legislative staff person who handles Defense Appropriations.  This is very important to ask for "the staff person who handles Defense Appropriations";  Different staff may handle other Defense and/or Veterans Affairs issues.    
    • If you get their voicemail, leave a detailed voicemail with your specific request (below).
3.  State your name and that you are a constituent, and very briefly (in 1 or 2 sentences at most) state your connection to Gulf War Illness
    • [For example:  "I'm among the one-third of Gulf War veterans veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness".  
    • Or, "I'm the wife/husband/son/daughter/parent of a Gulf War veteran suffering from Gulf War Illness."
4.  State that there is a "Dear Colleague" letter that you are specifically requesting the Congressman/Congresswoman sign onto.  

5.  Provide the name of the "Dear Colleague" letter (there is no bill number -- this is a "Dear Colleague" request to get funding into a bill -- specifically the FY18 Defense Appropriations Act):  
  • (U.S. SENATE)  The "Baldwin Dear Colleague Letter for FY18 Gulf War Illness treatment research funding."  

6.  State that this is to continue funding for a successful, treatment-focused program and there were 83 bipartisan cosigners in the House this year.

7.  State the sign-on deadline (this is a hard deadline):  Monday, May 22, 2017 (U.S. Senate). The Senator will likely want to support the one-fourth to one-third of Gulf War veterans and others suffering from Gulf War Illness.  

[Staff contacts, in case they ask are:  U.S. Senate:  Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Ben Hutterer).]

8.  Ask if you can email the staffer with a short one-pager about the program.  This is very important.  Then right away, email them the link to this document:  

About the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP, FY18):
9.  Ask that the staff person follow-up with you to let you know the Senator's decision as to whether to sign on.

10.  Thank the staff person for their time.


If they say they will sign on, post a comment below this post with the name of the Senator  and the name of the staffer and that they will or will not sign on.  

Follow-up in a day or two to find out the status, if you haven't heard back.

  • Be polite
  • Be pleasant
  • Be urgent
  • Be respectful
  • Be convincing
  • Be brief
  • Be SPECIFIC with the REQUEST:  Sign onto the "Baldwin Dear Colleague Letter for Gulf War Illness treatment research funding"  
  • VERY IMPORTANT:  Do not argue with, get angry with, or threaten the staffer in any way no matter what their decision is.  There are many reasons why a Senator cannot sign on, and they may even tell you that; just because they cannot sign on does not mean they do not support Gulf War veterans or this program.  For example, the Senator who leads this effort through to the finish line every year in the critically important Conference Committee between the House and Senate versions cannot sign the letter.  So again, Do not argue with, get angry with, or threaten the staffer or the Senator in any way no matter what their decision is


Last updated Monday, May 23, 2017

Cosigners to the FY18 GWIRP Baldwin Dear Colleague:
  1. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (WI) -- Senate Lead
  2. Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH)
  3. Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI)
  4. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI)
  5. Sen. Gary Peters (MI)
  6. Sen. Ron Wyden (OR)
  7. Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT)
  8. Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR)
  9. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
  10. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA)
  11. Sen. Ed Markey (MA)
  12. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN)
  13. Sen. Ben Cardin (MD)
  14. Sen. Bob Menendez (NJ)
  15. Sen. Brian Schatz (HI)


WHAT IS THE GOAL?  The overall goal of the GWIRP is to develop effective treatments for Gulf War Illness.  These veterans were directly affected by their toxic exposures during the 1991 Gulf War and deserve the best efforts our nation can provide to help them.  

You can email, call, or electronically message your two U.S. Senators who represent you.  See above for "10 quick and easy steps" to help.

WHO IS LEADING THIS FUNDING EFFORT IN CONGRESS?  This is a fully bipartisan effort.  The efforts in the House and Senate are entirely separate from each other.

In the United States Senate, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) is leading the effort for the Senate, as she has in previous years.  (May 22, 2017 sign-on deadline)

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the April 3, 2017 letter cosigned by 83 members of the House was co-led by Rep. Jack Bergman, LTG, USMC (Ret.) (R-Michigan) and Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-U.S. Territory of Northern Mariana Islands); House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tennessee) and Ranking Member Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minnesota), previous co-leads, were this year's first House cosigners.    

AT WHAT LEVEL SHOULD THE FUNDING BE SUPPORTED, AND WHY?  The effort is to support the treatment-focused Gulf War Illness CDMRP.  Their effort is calling for Members of Congress to support this important program by signing onto a "Dear Colleague" letter requesting adequate continuation funding for this successful, unique, and important program.  

WHY IS THIS PROGRAM NEEDED?  Reports by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM)2 (pp. 10, 260-64) and the Congressionally-mandated VA Research Advisory Committee (RAC) on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnessesemphasize that “effective treatments, cures, and, it is hoped, preventions” for GWI can “likely be found,” “…through a concerted national effort and rigorous scientific input.” 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 2014, pp. 1, 4, 5, 13, 78, 83; IOM 2010, pp. 10, 260-64.)

The RAC, more than 50 FY15 Independent Budget Veterans’ Service Organizations (IBVSO’s), scientist GWIRP panelists,1,5 and numerous consumer reviewers serving with the GWIRP have expressed strong support for the GWIRP to improve the health and lives of veterans suffering from GWI.   

The FY15 IBVSO’s said the GWI CDMRP, “has made great strides in the
short time it has been operating,” and the IBVSO’s (DAV, PVA, VFW, and 27 others) for the 115th Congress (2017-18) are asking Congress to “…provide sufficient funding to resume robust research to identify effective treatments...”

The program is supported by the nation's leading Veterans Service Organizations.  FY17 funding supporters included:  the American LegionAMVETS; Association of the U.S. Navy (AUSN); Burnpits360; Disabled American Veterans (DAV); Lung Cancer Alliance; National Gulf War Resource Center (NGWRC); National Vietnam & Gulf War Veterans Coalition (NVGWVC); Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA); Sergeant Sullivan CircleToxic Wounds Task Force; Veterans for Common Sense (VCS); Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW); Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). 
The FY15 Independent Budget Veterans Service Organizations (IBVSO’s, composed of AMVETS, DAV, PVA, VFW, and 53 other organizations that serve veterans) stated that the GWI CDMRP, “has made great strides in the short time it has been operating.” (pp. 126-27)

WHEN SHOULD I CALL MY SENATORS'/CONGRESSPERSON'S OFFICE?  Right away.  The deadline is fast approaching. 

WHEN IS THE DEADLINE?  The sign-on deadline for Senators in the U.S. Senate to sign-on is May 22, 2017.  Typically, their offices need one or more days to secure approval to sign-on.  


WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT THE GULF WAR ILLNESS RESEARCH PROGRAM?  The Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP), part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), a Congressionally directed activity funded under the U.S. Department of Defense, has a comprehensive website on the GWI program at: .  The GWIRP also publishes an overview of the program in its GWIRP program booklet.  

The GWIRP also publishes an overview of what is known scientifically about Gulf War Illness:  The Gulf War Illness Landscape .

Veterans for Common Sense (VCS), a leading national veterans' education and advocacy organization, has published the following two documents about the Gulf War Illness Research Program:

WHEN IS THE NEXT FUNDING AVAILABILITY FOR GULF WAR ILLNESS TREATMENT RESEARCH FUNDS?  The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Defense (U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command) provides information for prospective researchers, including how to apply.
Funding announcements are typically made in the late Spring of each year, but timing may vary quite a bit from year to year, depending upon Congressional appropriations.  

Recent research shows that chemical exposures are causally associated with Gulf War Illness.  Psychiatric causes have been ruled out.  

This paper reviews the recent medical literature on the health of 1991 Gulf War veterans, focusing particularly on the central nervous system and on effects of Gulf War toxicant exposures:

Another important advance for finding treatments for Gulf War Illness, funded by the GWIRP, was published in March 2017:

A copy of the letter currently being circulated in the Senate is here (a signed copy will be posted once it is complete, after the May 22 sign-on deadline):

A copy of the actual bipartisan April 3, 2017 letter that 83 Members of the House signed is here:


--Anthony Hardie, Author and Gulf War veteran advocate.

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