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Gulf War illnesses

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By Donald Mustard

    Gulf War illness, previously called Gulf War Syndrome, is a controversial diagnosis, and some have questioned whether it really exists.

    In my research for this article I looked at several sources and the data led me to the same conclusion, it is a controversial diagnosis.  I did find a report dated Nov. 25 2008, in Science Based Medicine that provides considerable information on the topic. It was reported “one fourth of the veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War complain of persistent memory and concentration problems, chronic headaches, wide spread pain, gastrointestinal problems and other chronic abnormalities not explained by well established diagnoses.  Treatments are ineffective and symptoms do not improve over time.”  

    The research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illness has concluded that Gulf War Illness is real and that it is probably attributable to the pyridostigmine bromide (PB) and pesticide exposure.  One of the conclusions was that of the 697,000 U.S veterans who served in the 1990-1991 Gulf War at least one fourth was affected.  It was also concluded that evidence strongly and consistently indicates that two Gulf War neurotoxic exposures are causally associated with Gulf War Illness: 1) use of pyridostigmine bromide (PB) pills, given to protect troops from effects of nerve agents, and 2) pesticide use during deployment.

    The research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ illnesses was mandated by congress and appointed in 2002.  The report published Nov. 17, 2008, runs 454 pages with multiple contributors.

    The 2009 edition of Federal Benefits for Veterans has a paragraph which I quote in part.  “Gulf War veterans with chronic disability; may receive disability compensation for chronic disabilities resulting from undiagnosed illness and/or medically unexplained chronic multi symptom illnesses defined by a cluster of signs or symptoms. The undiagnosed illness must have appeared either during active service in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations during the Gulf War period of Aug. 2, 1990, to July 31, 1991, or to a degree of at least 10 percent at any time since through Dec. 31, 2011.”  Please make note of the ending date of Dec. 31, 2011, and get your claim in as soon as possible.

    For additional information concerning this or any veterans’ benefit issues  call Don Mustard the Service Officer for the Lynchburg DAV Chapter 8, VFW Post 8184 and American Legion Post 16 at 434-316-0229. The office is located in the Marine Corps League Bldg. at 2337 Lakeside Drive, Lynchburg and is open for walk-ins Tuesday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday by appointment. 

    Sources for this article were; www.sciencebasedmedicine and VA booklet titled Federal Benefits for Veterans published in 2008.