In the past four years, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released several important reports about the adverse health consequences suffered by many of our 700,000 service members who deployed to Southwest Asia during 1990 – 1991.
On Monday, VA released a new “Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses Task Force” report, a revised version of VA’s 2011 report with the same name. VA’s new report outlines the department’s plan to address the long-standing medical concerns of the 250,000 Veterans who remain ill after serving overseas in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. VA’s report is available at: http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/2011_GWVI-TF_Report.pdf.
Two other significant scientific reports about 1990 – 1991 Gulf War Veterans were released in the past few years, confirming veterans are physically ill in large numbers:
- VA’s “Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illness” (RAC). Published in November 2008, this report concluded more than 200,000 Veterans remain ill with physical conditions. The RAC blamed the Veterans’ symptoms on toxic exposures, such as to pesticides and pyridostigmine (PB) pills taken to protect service members from expected chemical attacks. http://www.va.gov/RAC-GWVI/docs/Committee_Documents/GWIandHealthofGWVeterans_RAC-GWVIReport_2008.pdf
- Institute of Medicine’s (IOM), “Gulf War and Health,” Volume 8 was published in April 2010, and it confirms that an estimated 250,000 of our 1990 – 1991 Gulf War Veterans remain ill due to toxic exposures. The IOM excluded psychological problems as the cause of Gulf War Veterans’ chronic multi-symptom illness. http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/Gulf-War-and-Health-Volume-8-Health-Effects-of-Serving-in-the-Gulf-War.aspx
Under the law, the “Persian Gulf War” is defined as beginning on August 2, 1990, and continuing through the present. While the term “Gulf War Veterans” refers to all Veterans deployed in the past 21 years to Southwest Asia, VA’s revised “Gulf War Veterans’ Illness Task Force” report covers only those Veterans deployed during the first year of the war. VA also updated various VA web sites and terms describing Gulf War Veterans. For example, VA uses a new term, “medically unexplained chronic symptoms,” replacing the obsolete term, “Gulf War syndrome.”