Former Top VA Scientist Provides Stunning Testimony to Congress
Just as Veterans and members of Congress suspected for more than 22 years, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) blocked and manipulated scientific research into Gulf War illness.
VA’s shocking actions may have prevented as many as 250,000 ill Gulf War veterans from obtaining healthcare and disability compensation for medical conditions associated with deployment to Southwest Asia during 1990 and 1991.
You can watch the full hearing chaired by U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO), an Army Veteran who leads the Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs for the House Veterans’ Affairs committee (fast forward to about 1:27). Chairman Coffman told reporters VA needs to “clean house” over this latest scandal.
Dr. Coughlin’s Congressional testimony on March 13 lists specific accusations against top VA officials. The press coverage was widespread. Dr. Steven Coughlin, is widely believed to be the highest-level VA whistleblower ever to come forward. He alleges VA manipulated and suppressed scientific research about Gulf War illness and suicide, during an interview with reporter John Roberts at FOX News.
In a more detailed investigation by The Daily Beast, reporter Jamie Reno describes how VA “routinely disseminated false information about the health of America’s veterans, withheld research showing a link between nerve gas and Gulf War syndrome, rushed studies out the door without taking recommended fixes by an independent board, and failed to offer crucial care to veterans who came forward as suicidal.”
VA’s newest scandal was so serious that a top advocate, Gulf War Veteran Anthony Hardie, called for “criminal” prosecutions of top VA officials, according to an article written by Kelly Kennedy at USA Today. Hardie, a former Special Operations NCS said he knows and respects VA Chief of Staff John Gingrich, and he feels, based on Coughlin’s testimony, that Gingrich was lied to by his staff. Hardie demanded VA officials involved be “punished with criminal sanctions.”
Hardie, who also testified at the March 13 hearing, provided a list of specific actions Congress and VA can take to assist veterans with finally obtaining answers as to why Gulf War Veterans are ill, as well as providing treatments to improve their health and suggestions to streamline VA disability compensation benefits.
At the hearing, an independent research scientist, Dr. Lea Steele of Baylor University, blasted VA for moving “backwards” and “ignoring science.”
And yet another study released this week concludes what VA is unwilling to admit: Gulf War illness is neurologically based, not psychosomatic. As USA Today’s Kelly Kennedy reports, researchers at Georgetown University say they have found physical proof that Gulf War Illness is caused by damage to the brain.
As usual, VA is circling the wagons, stating, “The secretary has directed the Office of Research Oversight to review the allegations and report their findings,” reported the Associated Press. VA told AP that “all allegations of malfeasance are taken seriously and are investigated fully.”
Bergmann & Moore will continue following this major VA scandal because it impacts the disability benefits of hundreds of thousands of veterans, many of whom remain disabled and unemployable after fighting in Desert Shield and Desert Storm during 1990 and 1991.