Thursday, March 8, 2018

**URGENT ACTION ALERT** -- 5 Minutes to Help -- Gulf War Illness treatment research




*Senate deadline extended to April 11

ACTION NEEDED:   Very specific -- 

SENATE:  Ask your U.S. Senator to sign onto the "Baldwin 'Dear Colleague' Letter for Gulf War Illness treatment research funding" (FY 2019)  

READ BELOW for more details before calling. 

HOUSE: The House sign-on process has now closed.  House Members may still submit their own letters to the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee until COB March 19, 2018.  Ask your Congressperson in the U.S. House of Representatives to sign onto the "Bergman-Sablan 'Dear Colleague' Letter for Gulf War Illness treatment research funding" (FY 2019)  

DEADLINE for sign on's: 


SENATE:  Wednesday, April 11, 2018
HOUSE: was Thursday, March 15, 2018 


Current cosigners are listed at the end of this article.
**************************************

(91outcomes.com - Updated April 3, 2018) - Key members of Congress have launched a renewed bipartisan initiative to continue the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) to develop treatments for Gulf War Illness.  


The GWIRP is part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) administered by the U.S. Department of Defense under Congressional direction.  

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 the a concerted national effort, effective treatments can likely be found.


In the U.S. Senate, longstanding GWIRP champion U.S. Senate by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) again leads this year's push in the Senate continued funding for the unique, treatment-focused medical research program aimed at improving Gulf War veterans' health and lives.  

This year’s effort was led in the House by Rep. Jack Bergman, LtGen, USMC (Ret.) (R-MI) and Rep. Gregorio Sablan (I-NMI), and supported by Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. and Rep. Tim Walz, CSM, ARNG (Ret.).   


As a retired three-star Marine Corps general, Gen. Bergman, a veteran of the Vietnam War, is the highest ranking former military person ever to serve in Congress.  Sablan represents the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI) and has been a strong supporter of the program for years, with deep concerns about the effects of Agent Orange in the NMI.  


Dr. Roe is the Chairman of the full House Veterans' Affairs Committee, and Walz is the Ranking Member of the minority party on the Committee.  
And, as a retired Command Sergeant Major, Walz, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, is the highest ranking enlisted person ever to serve in Congress.  


The GWIRP is a unique federal program that continues to succeed in efforts to identify effective treatments for Gulf War Illness (GWI), better understand GWI’s pathophysiology, and identify objective biomarkers.   The GWIRP continues to demonstrate its effectiveness in its mission to improve the health and lives of veterans debilitated and suffering from Gulf War Illness.  We need to ensure that these efforts continue for these veterans and for current and future U.S. forces at risk of similar exposures and outcomes. 
Maintaining funding for this effective treatment-oriented program was recommended by the most recent (2014) report of the Congressionally-mandated Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (RAC). The Independent Budget Veterans Service Organizations recommended that Congress “…provide sufficient funding to resume robust research to identify effective treatments”. 

·       Last year (calendar year 2017; Fiscal Year 2018), 83 Members of the House signed onto the letter. 
·       Current HVAC Chairman  Roe and Ranking Member Walz were the bipartisan co-leads on the requests during the 114th Congress and last year and remain in strong support this year.   

·       A total of 13 HVAC members signed onto the letter last year, including HVAC Chairman Roe and Ranking Member Walz, Vice-Chairman Bilirakis, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (O&I) Chairman Bergman and Ranking Member Kuster, Subcommittee on Health Ranking Member Brownley, Subcommittee on Disability & Memorial Affairs (DAMA) Ranking Member Esty, and Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity (EO) Ranking Member O’Rourke, and Members Peters, Pingree, Radewagen, Rice, Sablan, and Takano.   


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.



******



STEP-BY STEP, HOW YOU CAN HELP IN JUST 5 MINUTES:

1.  Find your federal representatives in Congress.  You have one Representative in the House who represents the Congressional district in which you live and two U.S. Senators who represent your entire state.
    • SENATE:  Find your two U.S. Senators here.
    • HOUSE: Find your Congressman/Congresswoman in the U.S. House of Representatives here (near the top right corner, enter your zip code).  

2.  Call her or his Washington, DC office [not their office(s) back in their district or home state] , and ask for the legislative staff person who handles Department of Defense Appropriations (not VA, not Veterans Affairs).
    • 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 of the 1991 Gulf War suffering from Gulf War Illness".  
    • Or, "I'm the wife/husband/son/daughter/parent of a Gulf War veteran suffering from Gulf War Illness."
    • Or, "I'm one of many other veterans besides those who served in the Gulf War and I'm also suffering from a chronic multi-system illness like Gulf War Illness."
    • Etc.



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 Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Appropriations Act):  
  • SENATE:  The "Baldwin Dear Colleague Letter for Fiscal Year 2019 Gulf War Illness treatment research funding."  
  • HOUSE:  The "Bergman-Sablan Dear Colleague Letter for Fiscal Year 2019 Gulf War Illness treatment research funding."  


6.  State that this is to continue funding for a successful, treatment-focused program and there were:


  • HOUSE: 83 cosigners in the House last year (FY 2018) and 84 this year (FY 2019).


7.  State the sign-on deadline (this is a hard deadline).  The Senator/Congressman/Congresswoman will likely want to support the one-fourth to one-third of Gulf War veterans and others suffering from Gulf War Illness.  

HOUSE:  

[Staff contacts, in case they ask are:  


  • HOUSE:  Deadline:  was ThursdayMarch 15, 2018.  Staff Contacts for U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI)--Mr. Gabe Hisem and for U.S. Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-NMI)--Ms. Frances Diaz 

  • SENATE:  Deadline:  Wednesday, April 11, 2018.  Staff Contacts for U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)--Mr. Jeremy Steslicki


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:  




9.  Ask that the staff person follow-up with you to let you know the Senator's or Congressman's/Congresswoman's decision.


10.  Thank the staff person for their time.


AFTER YOUR CALL:

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

Follow-up in 2-3 days to find out the status, if you haven't heard back.


TIPS:
  • Be polite
  • Be pleasant
  • Be urgent
  • Be respectful
  • Be convincing
  • Be brief
  • Be SPECIFIC with the REQUEST:  Sign onto the "Baldwin" (U.S. SENATE) or "Bergman-Sablan" (U.S. HOUSE) "Dear Colleague Letter for Fiscal Year 2019 Gulf War Illness treatment research funding"  
  • Do not argue with, get angry with, or threaten the staffer in any way.  


=======================


CURRENT COSIGNERS LIST:   SEE BELOW

=======================



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ's)

WHAT IS THE GOAL?


The overall goal of the program is to find effective treatments for the officially estimated quarter-of-a million veterans of the 1991 Gulf War and others who are still suffering from the debilitating effects of Gulf War Illness.


These veterans were directly impacted by a veritable toxic soup of hazardous exposures during the short but intense war, and the best efforts our nation can provide to assist them.  




WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP? 

You can email, call, or electronically message your two U.S. Senators who represent you and your state in the U.S. Senate and your Congressman or Congresswoman who represents you in the U.S. House of Representatives.  


See above for "10 quick and easy steps" to make your request.  


Many Members of Congress have an option to submit your comments from a quick form right on their webpage.




WHO IS LEADING THIS FUNDING EFFORT IN CONGRESS?

HOUSE:  In the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Jack Bergman, LTG, USMC (Ret.) (R-Michigan) and Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-U.S. Territory of Northern Mariana Islands) are co-leading this effort.  Both serve on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. 

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tennessee) and Ranking Member Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minnesota) are backing this.   




SENATE:  In the United States Senate, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) is leading the bipartisan effort for the Senate.  

This is a fully bipartisan effort.



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 House Members 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.)


WHO SUPPORTS THIS PROGRAM?



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.  

FY2019 VSO supporters include:  Veterans of Foreign Wars, Veterans for Common Sense, National Gulf War Resource Center, National Vietnam and Gulf War Coalition, Burn Pits 360, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, AMVETS, Vietnam Veterans of America, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, Fleet Reserve Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart,  Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, and the Air Force Association. 

FY18 VSO supporters included:  The American Legion; AMVETS; Burn Pits 360; Disabled American Veterans (DAV); Lung Cancer Alliance; National Gulf War Resource Center (NGWRC); National Vietnam & Gulf War Veterans Coalition; Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA); Sergeant Sullivan Circle; Veterans for Common Sense (VCS); Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW); and Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). 

FY17 VSO supporters included:  the American Legion; AMVETS; 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; Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA); Sergeant Sullivan Circle; Toxic 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.  Typically, their offices need one or more days to secure approval to sign-on.  



WHEN IS THE DEADLINE? 

HOUSE:  The sign-on deadline for Congresspersons in the U.S. House of Representatives to sign-on was Thursday, March 15, 2018.

SENATE:   The sign-on deadline for Senators in the U.S. Senate is Wednesday, April 11, 2018.





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ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS



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:  http://cdmrp.army.mil/gwirp .  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.  


WHAT IS RECENT RESEARCH SAYING ABOUT GULF WAR ILLNESS?


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:

Finally, this update shows all the recent research published findings from GWIRP-funded research since from about mid-2016 to March 2, 2018:
...and this update shows recent GWIRP successes:



WHO IS CURRENTLY COSIGNED ON THE LETTER?



SENATE:    The Senators currently signed on (as of Tuesday, April 3, 2018) are:


Last Name
First Name
State
1
Baldwin
Tammy
WI
2
Merkley
Jeff
OR
3
Wyden
Ron
OR
4
Menendez
Robert
NJ
5
Van Hollen
Chris
MD
6
Peters
Gary
MI
7
Hirono
Mazie
HI
8
Klobuchar
Amy
MN
9
Sanders
Bernie
VT
10
Markey
Edward
MA






HOUSE:  The Members of the House who signed on for FY2019 (closing date Thursday, March 15, 2018) were:


Last Name
First Name
District
1
Bergman
Jack
MI-01
2
Bilirakis
Gus M.
FL-12
3
Bost
Mike
IL-12
4
Brown
Anthony G.
MD-04
5
Brownley
Julia
CA-26
6
Buchanan
Vern
FL-16
7
Bustos
Cheri
IL-17
8
Cárdenas
Tony
CA-29
9
Carson
Andre
IN-07
10
Chu
Judy
CA-27
11
Cicilline
David N.
RI-01
12
Clarke
Yvette D.
NY-09
13
Correa
J. Luis
CA-46
14
Crist
Charlie
FL-13
15
Cummings
Elijah E.
MD-07
16
Davis
Susan A.
CA-53
17
DeFazio
Peter A.
OR-04
18
DeGette
Diana
CO-01
19
Delaney
John K.
MD-06
20
DeLauro
Rosa L.
CT-03
21
DeSaulnier
Mark
CA-11
22
Dingell
Debbie
MI-12
23
Doggett
Lloyd
TX-35
24
Dunn
Neal P.
FL-02
25
Ellison
Keith
MN-05
26
Eshoo
Anna G.
CA-18
27
Esty
Elizabeth H.
CT-05
28
Frankel
Lois
FL-21
29
Gabbard
Tulsi
HI-02
30
Gallego
Ruben
AZ-07
31
González Colón
Jenniffer
PR-AL
32
Grijalva
Raúl M.
AZ-03
33
Hastings
Alcee L.
FL-20
34
Jackson Lee
Sheila
TX-18
35
Johnson
Bill
OH-06
36
Johnson, Jr.
Henry C. "Hank"
GA-04
37
Jones
Walter B.
NC-03
38
Katko
John
NY-24
39
Keating
William R.
MA-09
40
Kind
Ron
WI-03
41
Krishnamoorthi
Raja
IL-08
42
Kuster
Ann MacLane
NH-02
43
Larsen
Rick
WA-02
44
Lee
Barbara
CA-13
45
Lieu
Ted
CA-33
46
Lipinski
Daniel W.
IL-03
47
Loebsack
Dave
IA-02
48
Lowenthal
Alan
CA-47
49
Lynch
Stephen F.
MA-08
50
McGovern
James P.
MA-02
51
Moore
Gwen S.
WI-04
52
O'Rourke
Beto
TX -16
53
Payne, Jr.
Donald M.
NJ-10
54
Perlmutter
Ed
CO-07
55
Peters
Scott H.
CA-52
56
Peterson
Collin C.
MN-07
57
Pingree
Chellie
ME-01
58
Plaskett
Stacey E.
USVI-00
59
Poliquin
Bruce
ME-02
60
Polis
Jared
CO-02
61
Radewagen
Aumua Amata C.
AS-00
62
Rice
Kathleen M.
NY-04
63
Roe, M.D.
Phil
TN-01
64
Rosen
Jacky
NV-03
65
Ruiz
Raul
CA-36
66
Sablan
Gregorio Kilili Camacho
MP-00
67
Sanchez
Linda T.
CA-38
68
Schakowsky
Jan
IL-09
69
Shea-Porter
Carol
NH-01
70
Shrader
Kurt
OR-05
71
Sinema
Kyrsten
AZ-09
72
Sires
Albio
NJ-08
73
Soto
Darren
FL-09
74
Speier
Jackie
CA-14
75
Takano
Mark
CA-41
76
Veasey
Marc
TX-33
77
Vela
Filemon
TX-34
78
Walz
Tim
MN-01
79
Welch
Peter
VT-AL
80
Yarmuth
John A.
KY-03
81
Yoho, D.V.M.
Ted S.
FL-03




WHAT DOES THE "DEAR COLLEAGUE" LETTER ACTUALLY SAY?  


The text of the letter that Members of the House are signing onto is below.  The Senate letter looks very similar: 

Dear Chairman/Chairwoman xxx and Ranking Member xxx:

Thank you for your interest in and continued support of the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) within the Department of Defense (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), including the $20 million appropriated for Fiscal year 2018 (FY2018). As your Subcommittee begins work on FY2019 DoD appropriations, we respectfully request adequate funding for the GWIRP.

Since its inception, the GWIRP has demonstrated significant progress in developing treatments for Gulf War Illness (GWI). The positive news is that treatment research for veterans afflicted by GWI has increased considerably, a direct result of clear, treatment-focused congressional direction and stable appropriations for the GWIRP.

Successive reports by the congressionally-mandated Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (RAC) and the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) have shown that:

·      Gulf War Illness is a physical condition — likely caused by toxic exposures — that affects as much as one-third of the nearly 700,000 veterans who served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

·      Debilitating symptoms typically include “some combination of widespread pain, headache, persistent problems with memory and thinking, fatigue, breathing problems, stomach and intestinal symptoms, and skin abnormalities.”

·       Studies also found elevated incidence of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) among Gulf War veterans as well as significantly elevated rates of death due to brain cancer among those who were most exposed to the release of nerve gas by the destruction of the Khamisiyah Iraqi arms depot.

These reports 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.” 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.

The GWIRP has shown itself to be a model on how to conduct treatment-oriented research to address a challenging illness.  By Congressional design, the GWIRP is narrowly focused on “improving the health and lives of veterans who have Gulf War Illness,” by funding “innovative Gulf War Illness research to identify effective treatments, improve definition and diagnosis, and better understand pathobiology and symptoms.”

The GWIRP is making considerable progress where earlier research failed to seek evidence-based treatments. In the past year, publications of GWIRP-funded studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals have highlighted numerous advances toward the GWIRP’s triple goals aimed squarely at improving the health and lives of GWI veterans: better understanding GWI’s pathophysiology; identifying biomarkers of GWI; and developing treatments for GWI

The interest in the scientific community created by the landmark RAC and the NASEM reports, consistent Congressional support, effective GWIRP management, and scientific discoveries in related fields are making possible important advances towards GWIRP’s goals.

Recognizing the program’s progress, the RAC report’s recommendations remain instructive: “Congress should maintain its funding to support the effective treatment-oriented [GWIRP].” 

This request is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Veterans for Common Sense, the National Gulf War Resource Center, National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition, Sergeant Sullivan Circle, Burn Pits 360, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Fleet Reserve Association, Jewish War Veterans of the U.S., Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the US, and Air Force Association.

We respectfully request that you provide the necessary resources to continue this vital and effective program.


Sincerely,

xxxxx 


*****


--Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes.com Author and Gulf War veteran advocate.

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