(Washington – February 19, 2020) — Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) today called for the U.S. Senate to expand a major military medical research program to peripheral neuropathy, a debilitating condition that affects 30 million Americans including countless thousands of veterans.
Vietnam War veterans appear to be significantly affected, and recent research has connected at least one form of peripheral neuropathy to service in the 1991 Gulf War.
The full text of the letter is below.
TO TAKE ACTION: Those interested in supporting this effort can contact U.S. Senators to request the Senate include the designation of “peripheral neuropathy” among the disorders eligible for research funded by the PRMRP in the FY 2021 Defense Appropriations Act.
February 19, 2020
The Honorable Richard C. Shelby The Honorable Richard J. Durbin
Chairman Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Defense Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
SUBJECT: Including Peripheral Neuropathy in the Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program
Dear Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Durbin,
Vietnam Veterans of American and Veterans for Common Sense support the inclusion of “peripheral neuropathy” among the disorders and conditions eligible for research funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Defense Appropriations Act under the Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) within the Department of Defense (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).
Affecting an estimated 30 million Americans, peripheral neuropathy refers to the many conditions that involve damage to the peripheral nervous system. The disabling symptoms of peripheral neuropathy typically include pain (sometimes severe), prickling, and/or numbness in the hands and feet that may spread to the arms and legs. Symptoms may also include extreme sensitivity to touch; sleep difficulties; significant mobility problems; poor balance and falls; tremors; heat intolerance and altered sweating; muscle wasting, weakness, and paralysis; and bowel, bladder, or digestive problems.
Peripheral neuropathy is common among the veterans community, particularly those diagnosed with diabetes, hepatitis C, and HIV. Cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy treatment commonly develop peripheral neuropathy. The Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) within the CDMRP has supported some promising research studies on the correlation between Gulf War Illness and Small Fiber Peripheral Neuropathy (SFPN) – one of more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy, each with its own symptoms and disease course. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), under specific conditions, presumes veterans’ early-onset peripheral neuropathy is related to their exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during service.
The mission of the PRMRP is to “improve the health, care, and well-being of all Military Service members, Veterans, and beneficiaries.” Broad peripheral neuropathy research across the full spectrum of military and veteran populations will enhance rather than duplicate existing federal government research efforts, bringing us closer to finding a cure for the estimated 30 million Americans coping with these debilitating conditions – including the untold numbers of Vietnam, Gulf War, and other veterans and current and future military service members.
We therefore urge you to again include the designation of “peripheral neuropathy” among the disorders eligible for research funded by the PRMRP in the FY 2021 Defense Appropriations Act. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
John Rowan Anthony Hardie
National President National Chair and Director
Vietnam Veterans of America Veterans for Common Sense
DOWNLOAD PDF of the letter: Peripheral Neuropathy in PRMRP VVA and VCS