Friday, March 20, 2020

**Action Alert** Call on Your Senators to Continue Gulf War Treatment Research

( - The treatment-focused Gulf War Illness research program expires at the end of this fiscal year.  The goal is to continue to grow this critically important treatment development research for the nearly one-third of Gulf War veterans debilitated by Gulf War Illness.

It parallels the effort in the U.S. House that just concluded, led by Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-NMI) and Rep. Jack Bergman, LtGen, USMC (Ret.) (R-Mich.) with 108 bipartisan cosigners including the leadership and many members of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Contact your U.S. Senators' offices to sign onto the: "Baldwin Dear Colleague in support of FY21 funding for the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) within DoD’s CDMRP." 

**Sign-On Deadline EXTENDED TO**: Close of Business, Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Find your Senator:

**Your quick phone call to your two U.S. Senators' offices will help make the difference in Congress deciding to continue this critical program for one more year.  If not, it will expire at the end of this fiscal year.**

This FY21 request is supported by 25 veterans service and advocacy organizations, including: 

Association of the United States Navy, Blinded Veterans Association, Burn Pits 360, Cease Fire Campaign, DAV (Disabled American Veterans), Fleet Reserve Association, High Ground Veterans Advocacy, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, Military Order of the Purple Heart, National Veterans Legal Services Program, National Vietnam & Gulf War Veterans Coalition, Non Commissioned Officers Association, ROA, Sergeant Sullivan Circle, Swords to Plowshares, The Quinism Foundation, TREA: The Enlisted Association, United Soldiers and Sailors of America - USASOA, Veteran Warriors, Veterans and Military Families for Progress, Veterans for Common Sense, Veterans of Foreign Wars, VetsFirst, Vietnam Veterans of America, Wounded Warrior Project

The final list of co-signers includes (as of Wednesday, April 1st):

  1. Tammy Baldwin 
  2. Tina Smith 
  3. Tammy Duckworth 
  4. Elizabeth Warren 
  5. Kirsten E. Gillibrand 
  6. Gary C. Peters 
  7. Amy Klobuchar 
  8. Mazie K. Hirono 
  9. Ron Wyden 
  10. Richard Blumenthal 
  11. Jacky Rosen 
  12. Maria Cantwell 
  13. Jon Tester 
  14. Sheldon Whitehouse 
  15. Kyrsten Sinema 
  16. Edward J. Markey 
  17. Kamala D. Harris 
  18. Bernard Sanders 
  19. Dianne Feinstein
  20. Debbie Stabenow
  21. Robert Menendez
  22. Cory A. Booker

The text of the Senate "Dear Colleague" is below.


Dear Colleague,

Senator Baldwin invites your boss to join her on a letter to SAC-D in support of FY21 funding for the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) within DoD’s CDMRP. The letter asks for “adequate funding” to continue the program and support its planned expansion into more advanced, larger-scale clinical trials, which is a mark of the program’s research progress helping our country’s Gulf War veterans.  In FY20, the program received $22M as a separate topic/funding line in the DoD conference report. Adequate funding would fund one large-scale, Phase III clinical trial aimed at confirming the efficacy and safety of treatments for Gulf War Illness.

The letter lists the large number of VSOs supporting this effort. Reps. Bergman and Sablan are leading a similar effort in the House.

Please let me know if you have any questions and/or would like to chat. Unfortunately, Gulf War Veterans and Gulf War Illness do not receive the attention commensurate with their service and the need, respectively. This letter and the GWIRP goes a long way toward fixing that.

Deadline: Thursday, March 26

FY20 Cosigners: Baldwin, Tester, Blumenthal, Warren, Menendez, Wyden, Whitehouse, Markey, Sanders, Hirono, Duckworth, Rosen, Booker, Smith, Klobuchar, Peters, Harris, Stabenow, Brown, Gillibrand, Cantwell



March XX, 2020

The Honorable Richard Shelby
Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense
113 Dirksen 
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Richard J. Durbin
Vice Chairman
Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense
711 Hart 
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Durbin:

As your Subcommittee begins work on the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Defense Appropriations bill, we respectfully request adequate funding for the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) within the Department of Defense (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). We also thank you for providing the program $22 million in FY 2020.
By congressional design, the GWIRP is a unique medical research program narrowly focused on improving the health and lives of Veterans with Gulf War Illness. Reports by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and government committees have shown that: 1) Gulf War Illness (“GWI”), likely caused by toxic exposures, affects up to one-third of the nearly 700,000 veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War; and 2) GWI’s 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."[1]
The GWIRP is narrowly focused on unraveling GWI’s underlying pathobiology, improving its definition and diagnosis, and developing treatments. While two-thirds of GWIRP-funded studies are still in progress, the growing body of results published in peer-reviewed scientific journals demonstrates steady advances toward the GWIRP’s goals. GWIRP-funded pilot studies shown as promising are now progressing to larger-scale clinical trials. These successes are the direct result of clear, treatment-focused congressional direction, stable appropriations, and effective management. Key recent GWIRP-funded results include:
§  The first direct evidence of neuroinflammation in veterans with GWI,[2] a treatable target.
§  Significantly different gut microbiome patterns in GWI, including greater plasma levels of an inflammatory cytokine and associated with significantly more reported GW chemical weapons exposure and GWI symptoms.[3]  
§  25 percent reduction in key GWI symptoms by treating GWI with KPAX002, a proprietary combination designed to support mitochondrial function.[4]
Recognizing the GWIRP’s progress, the recommendations in the last Research Advisory Committee report remain instructive: "Congress should maintain its funding to support the effective treatment-oriented [GWIRP].”[5] The discoveries through the GWIRP continue to represent encouraging steps toward achieving the treatment goals articulated by the NAS: “to speed the development of effective treatments, cures, and, it is hoped, preventions" for current and future U.S. forces at risk of similar exposures and outcomes. Indeed, the GWIRP has served as a model of how to conduct treatment-oriented research to address a challenging illness and is succeeding where earlier programs failed. Its two-tier peer-reviewed and highly competitive process ensures the independence and value of the results produced. Unlike the VA’s research program, which only funds VA researchers, the GWIRP seeks out and funds the best research by any combination of government, academic, or private-sector researchers and research teams. 
We respectfully request that you provide the necessary resources in the FY21 Defense Appropriations bill to support this vital and effective program as it progresses into more advanced, larger-scale clinical trials – a development indicative of the GWIRP’s steady progress, but one that comes with well-justified, added costs. Furthermore, it remains critical to the program's success and accountability that the GWIRP is retained as a stand-alone program within the CDMRP and not be combined as a topic area within broader, less-targeted research programs.
Thank you for your consideration of our request, which is supported by the Veterans for Common Sense, Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), Jewish War Veterans of the USA, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Non Commissioned Officers Association, the Quinism Foundation, TREA: The Enlisted Association, Veterans and Military Families for Progress, Fleet Reserve Association, Association of the United States Navy, Sgt. Sullivan Circle.



Tammy Baldwin
Unites States Senator

[1] National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, “Gulf War and Health, Volume 8: Update of Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War,” 2010; Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans: Research Update and Recommendations, 2009-2013,” 2014.
[2] Zeynab A, Albrecht DS, Bergan C, Akeju O, Clauw DJ, Conby L, Edwards RR, Kim M, Lee YC, Protsenko E, Napadow V, Sullivan K, Loggia ML.  (February 2020).  In-vivo imaging of neuroinflammation in veterans with Gulf War illness Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.   
[3] Janulewicz, Patricia A.; Seth, Ratanesh K.; Carlson, Jeffrey M.; Ajama, Joy; Quinn, Emily; Heeren, Timothy; Klimas, Nancy; Lasley, Steven M.; Horner, Ronnie D.; Sullivan, Kimberly; Chatterjee, Saurabh.  (2019). "The Gut-Microbiome in Gulf War Veterans: A Preliminary Report." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 16, no. 19: 3751.  See also: GWIRP-funded project expands exciting gut biome finding for Gulf War Illness
[4] Holodniy M, Kaiser JD. (November 2019). Treatment for Gulf War Illness (GWI) with KPAX002 (methylphenidate hydrochloride + GWI nutrient formula) in subjects meeting the Kansas case definition: A prospective, open-label trial.  J. of Psych. Rsch., 118: 14-20. .  See also: “A Prospective Open-Label Clinical Trial of Methylphenidate plus a GWI-Specific Nutrient Formula in Patients with Gulf War Illness and Concentration Disturbances”.
[5] Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans: Research Update and Recommendations, 2009-2013,” 2014.

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