Saturday, August 10, 2019

I think I might have Gulf War Illness, what should I do?

( - If you think you might have Gulf War Illness (GWI), below are some basic suggested steps.

1) Read this overview about GWI: 

Review this "state of the science" overview of Gulf War Illness (GWI):

While it's fairly technical, skim and read the parts you can understand.  You can also share this with your doctor or others.

Does it sound like you meet the following GWI criteria? 

"The Kansas definition of GWI requires that cases have moderately severe or multiple chronic symptoms in at least three of six categories: fatigue/sleep problems, pain, neurological/cognitive/mood symptoms, respiratory complaints, gastrointestinal problems or skin symptoms (Steele, 2000) [lasting at least 6 months in duration]. Veterans who have severe psychiatric disorders or other medical conditions that might predict similar symptoms are excluded." 
Most 1991 Gulf War veterans with GWI have had the symptoms for a very long time.  Many had their symptoms begin during or soon after Gulf War deployment.  

2) Get a comprehensive WRIISC exam:

Whether or not you can answer "yes" to #1 above, ask your VA primary care for a referral to the VA's WRIISC for hard-to-diagnose symptoms:

3) Participate in GWI Clinical Treatment Research:

If yes to #1, participate in GWI research.  Some studies are allowed to provide results to study subjects, while others are not.  The reasons why and why not are beyond the scope of this short article.  

However, participating will often give you better insight into your health condition, and also stand to significantly help you and all other ill Gulf War veterans.  I

f the study is a treatment trial, you may also have early access to try a potentially effective treatment.  

4) File a VA Claim:

If yes to #1 and after #2 has been completed, work with a veterans service organization (VSO) or county veterans service officer (CVSO) experienced in Gulf War claims to file an appropriate claim. 

Here's a good write-up from a veterans claims law firm, but you don't have to use them or a lawyer, just never file a VA claim on your own -- always use professional help, ideally a VSO experienced in Gulf War claims.

You can usually find VSO's at the VA Regional Office (VARO) that services your state:

About half the states have CVSO's:

Some States also provide state-funded veterans service staff to assist with claims:

There are also many law firms that can help you appeal denied claims and may sometimes help with original claims filing.  

5) File for Disability: 

If you're totally disabled and unable to work, you may also be able to file for disability through Social Security, and if applicable through your current employer.  Again, those are beyond the scope of this short article.  

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