(Washington – June 7, 2016) – Veterans for Common Sense praised Senate leaders for passing an amendment today to preserve federal medical research – including the federal, treatment-focused Gulf War Illness Research Program strongly supported by VCS and Gulf War veterans.
The bipartisan amendment, led by Senators Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), garnered more than 30 cosponsors and passed narrowly by a 66-32 vote today on the floor of the U.S. Senate. (S.Amdt #4369)
“We are truly grateful for the leadership of Senators Durbin and Cochran and so many of their colleagues who recognize the critical importance of this medical research and the real hope it provides to those suffering from debilitating injuries and illnesses,” said Anthony Hardie, director of Veterans for Common Sense. “Today’s passage of this amendment means critically important medical research efforts can continue as they should,” said Hardie.
Other medical research programs preserved by the amendment include research related to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), cancers, respiratory conditions, and an array of other health conditions afflicting countless current and former military service members, their families, and others. A burn pit exposure research program that was recently recommended for renewal by a Senate funding committee was among those protected by the amendment.
Many of the programs that were spared are administered by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) under Congressional direction as part of the Department of Defense health program.
The amendment removed provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017 (S. 2943) that would have curtailed current health research programs and hampered future research efforts.
A national advocacy effort in support of the amendment even garnered its own hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media: #ResearchNotRedTape .
Despite being a relatively new and very small program by federal research standards, the Gulf War Illness Research Program has already found evidence suggesting Coenzyme Q10, Carnosine, Acupuncture, and a xylitol-based nasal spray may help diminish some Gulf War Illness symptoms. The condition affects between one-fourth and one-third of veterans of the 1991 Gulf War has been linked to Gulf War toxic exposures.
In a Stars and Stripes article published today, “Senate wrangles over $1 billion in DOD medical research,” Disabled American Veterans Assistant National Legislative Director Adrian Atizado, himself a Gulf War veteran, is quoted in support of the programs spared by today’s amendment.
Disabled American Veterans opposed the McCain proposal, saying its members have benefited directly from the research program.
Adrian Atizado, DAV assistant national legislative director, said Gulf War Illness research initiated by Congress in 2006 could [also] help 600 veterans who were exposed to old chemical weapons during a disposal operation, and that wider research on multiple sclerosis and Lou Gehrig’s disease could also benefit the military because of the prevalence of the diseases among servicemembers and veterans.
“This research program is a peer-reviewed and competitive grant process led by scientists, clinicians and disease experts, and ensures that taxpayers’ dollars support only the most promising military-relevant research,” Atizado said.
Founded in 2003, Veterans for Common Sense is an all-volunteer, Washington, DC-based educational and advocacy organization that works to highlight issues of public interest related to national defense, foreign policy, and current and former military service members. VCS is a member of the Defense Health Research Consortium, which supports Defense health research programs.