Source: Veterans for Common Sense
Contact: Charles Sheehan-Miles, Executive Director
202-543-6176, cell 202-412-2433
New StudyShowsGulf War Veterans Sickened by Chemicals;
Iraq War Veterans May Also be at Risk
Better care and research is needed for returning veterans who might be exposed to toxic chemicals and other injuries in wartime deployments, said a non-partisan veterans’ organization in response to a New York Times report of a new study showing that Gulf War veterans’ illnesses were caused by exposure to toxic chemicals.
Veterans for Common Sense, a non-partisan veterans’ organization focused on national security, veterans’ care, civil liberties and energy policy, called for changes to Pentagon and VA policy today.
The report, to be published by the Department of Veterans Affairs Research Advisory Committee, marks a significant break from previous investigations into Gulf War illnesses. It implicates a particular class of chemicals, called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, which Gulf War veterans were exposed to. These chemicals included sarin, destroyed in a 1991 blast at a chemical weapons dump in southern Iraq, and pyridostigmine bromide, a nerve-agent pre-treatment drug distributed to the troops in both the Gulf War and in the Iraq War.
“It is particularly of concern that research implicating pyridostigmine bromide in Gulf War illnesses has been been published for some time,” said Charles Sheehan-Miles, the group’s executive director and a 1991 Gulf War veteran. “Because the FDA again approved the use of this drug for Iraq War veterans in 2002, Iraq War veterans may also be at risk.” The group, a veterans’ organization with 9,000 members ranging from World War II to the Iraq War (including some still deployed in Iraq), called on the Pentagon and VA to take significant steps to prevent a reoccurrence among Iraq War vets.
“It has taken thirteen years for the government to officially acknowledge that Gulf War veterans were suffering from serious physical ailments. That is not acceptable for our troops or our country.”
- According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, from 38 to 98 percent of Iraqi Freedom veterans did not receive pre-and post deployment physical exams required by a 1997 law designed to prevent the mystery surrounding Gulf War veterans’ illnesses.
- Though overall spending on veterans’ health care has increased in recent years, due to spiraling medical care costs VA has been forced to cut services, close hospitals and in one case was reported to defer all surgeries because the hospital ran out of money. Congress adjourned last week without passing final bills on veterans’ health care.
- Delays for medical appointments and claims processing for new veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can be as long as six months.
The group endorsed a key conclusion of the report, which said that a critical requirement is for the VA to refocus its energies on finding viable treatments for veterans who have been sick for the years since the Gulf War.
About Veterans for Common Sense
Veterans for Common Sense was founded in the 2002. It is a non-partisan, centrist veterans’ organization focused on issues of national security, veterans’ benefits, civil liberties and human rights, and U.S. energy independence. Its 9,000 members have served in every U.S. conflict since 1941.
Interviews are available with:
Charles Sheehan-Miles, VCS Executive Director. Charles served as a tank crewman in the 1991 Gulf War.
VCS can also arrange interviews with veterans who have suffered from illnesses arising from the war.