The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has approved $2.8 million to fund three new research projects that focus on testing or developing new treatments for illnesses affecting Veterans who served in the Gulf War 1990-1991. The research incorporates recommendations of the department’s Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses Task Force.
“Reaching out to Gulf War Veterans is essential to the transformation of VA,” said Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff John R. Gingrich. “This research is a great opportunity to do something that will improve the care and services these Veterans have earned.”
About 697,000 men and women served in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August 1990 to June 1991 during the Gulf War. In the years since they returned, nearly a quarter of these Veterans have experienced chronic symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, gastrointestinal problems, cognitive dysfunction, sleep disturbances, persistent headaches, skin rashes, respiratory conditions and mood changes. The symptoms are known collectively as “Gulf War Veterans’ illnesses.”
A recent report by the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Gulf War and Health, “Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War,” noted that chronic multi-symptom illnesses affect an estimated 250,000 Gulf War Veterans. Given the findings, VA is embarking on a national Gulf War Veterans’ illness research program to identify and adopt the most effective treatments for Veterans.
The studies are expected to take between two to five years to complete, and include:
The IOM report noted that the illnesses seen in Gulf War Veterans cannot be ascribed to any psychiatric disorder and likely result from genetic and environmental factors, although the data are not strong enough to draw conclusions about specific causes.
(Source: Press Release)