Monday, January 12, 2009

Federal report concludes Gulf War Illness real issue for one-in-four U.S. veterans, study says

A federal report released in November 2008 confirmed the existence of health issues as a result of participation in the Gulf War.

Two chemicals caused illnesses which came to be known as the "Gulf War Syndrome" or "Gulf War Illness", says scientists who participated in the study. They include the drug pyridostigmine bromide (PB pills), which protect against nerve agents, and pesticides that were widely used during the 1991 Middle East conflict in Iraq.

The 452-page report compiled by a panel of scientific experts and veterans serving on the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses confirmed that "scientific evidence leaves no question that Gulf War illness is real, and is affecting 697,000 U.S. veterans who served during the Gulf War.

According to 38 United States Code 1117, Persian Gulf War veterans may experience signs or symptoms of undiagnosed illness or chronic multi-symptom illnesses that include; fatigue, headaches, muscle or joint pain, neurological issues, upper or lower respiratory issues, sleep disturbances, unexplained stomach ailments, abnormal weight loss, menstrual disorders or unexplained rashes or skin issues.

"This is a bitter-sweet victory," said Committee member Anthony Hardie. "Because this is what Gulf War veterans have been saying all along, and years were squandered by the federal government trying to disprove that anything could be wrong with (them)."

The Committee's report, entitled "Gulf War Illness and Health of Gulf War Veterans" was officially presented to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. James Peake. The report goes on to say that the illnesses effecting veterans come as a result of multiple "biological alterations" which affect the brain and nervous system.

The report does not rule out other contributing factors, but notes there are no clear links between Gulf War Syndrome and oil well fires, depleted uranium or the anthrax vaccine. The nerve agent pill PB and the pesticides are no longer used by the U.S. military.

To see the entire report, go here.

To see more information from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs on Gulf War Illnesses, go here.

To read more on Gulf War Illnesses, the effects thereof, and possible benefits available to veterans, go here.

To read the full story from CNN.com, go here.


Story by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon Military Department New Media Manager

Editorial note: Information for this blog post was taken from the story "Gulf War Illness is real, federal report concludes" by Tom Mann, which appeared in the January/February 2009 issue of Vets News, and from the CNN.com article by Alan Silverlieb.

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