Nov 17: VCS Urges Research into Gulf War Exposures and Gulf War Illness Treatments

Veterans for Common Sense Urges Research into Gulf War Exposures and Gulf War Illness Treatments

November 17, 2008, Washington, DC – Veterans for Common Sense released the following statement in response to the new report by the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (RAC).

Veterans for Common Sense is pleased with the thorough report prepared by the RAC.  We commend the veterans and scientists who have worked for the last six years reviewing the work on Gulf War illnesses conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DoD).  The RAC report repudiates years of delays and denials caused by a group of VA and DoD staff who ignored the eyewitness accounts of veterans and scientific research.

VCS believes action is needed today to make sure the RAC’s recommendations are implemented soon.

VCS urges Congress to fund new research recommended by the RAC into why up to 210,000 Gulf War veterans are ill as well as fund research into desperately needed medical treatments for our veterans.

VCS also urges top VA officials to review the conduct of VA Central Office staff who blocked scientific research into toxic exposures, especially VA’s contracts with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that improperly excluded animal studies from scientific review.  The VA Central Office staff who needlessly delayed research, treatment, and disability benefits for hundreds of thousands of Gulf War veterans should be held accountable for their actions.

The facts presented by the RAC reveal how a handful of key VA and DoD officials failed to assist Gulf War veterans by clinging to the discredited myth that Gulf War illnesses were only related to stress for nearly 17 years.  The DoD neglected to consider the many toxic exposures as potential causes of Gulf War illnesses, even after Gulf War veterans and scientists raised these as serious possibilities. 

We look forward to working with Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) as they conduct oversight into VA’s failure to enter into proper contracts with IOM that may have blocked access to healthcare and disability benefits for hundreds of thousands of ill and disabled Gulf War veterans.

VCS thanks Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Representative Chris Shays (R-CT), and former Representative Lane Evans (D-IL) for their diligent leadership in passing the landmark “Persian Gulf Veterans Act of 1998” that created the RAC.

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