Veterans for Common Sense among 104 organizations calling for Congress to complete annual Appropriations bills stalled in the Senate

Failure to soon enact the fiscal year 2021 Defense Appropriations Act will result in cessation of critical Servicemembers and veteran medical research programs affecting veterans with Gulf War Illness and Burn Pits exposure

(Washington – September 10, 2020) – Today, 104 health and veteran advocacy organizations, including Veterans for Common Sense, joined in calling on Congressional leadership to work to enact the annual Defense spending bill that is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate.

Currently, a short-term continuing resolution has been proposed to prevent a government shutdown, which would result if the various annual spending bills already passed by the U.S. House are not enacted.  A full-year continuing resolution would result in defunding, and cessation, of the critically important Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).

Veterans for Common Sense annually fights for annual renewal of the treatment-focused Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) and pushed for restoration of the Burn Pits Exposure topic area within the CDMRP’s Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program.

Earlier this year, Veterans for Common Sense and Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) also pushed for the inclusion of medical research regarding 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.

Joining the The Quinism Foundation, Veterans for Common Sense also pushed for the U.S. Senate earlier this year to fund critical research into the chronic adverse neurological and psychiatric effects of mefloquine and related quinoline antimalarial drugs, following release of a report by a committee of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).  The NAM committee was charged with looking at “long-term health effects” of antimalarial medication, with “special attention” “to possible long-term neurologic effects,” and “long-term psychiatric effects” — prevalent concerns among current and former military service members who took the drugs during military service in malaria-endemic regions.  These advocacy efforts were overcome by the COVID-19 pandemic and the politicization of one antimalarial drug later found to be ineffective for the treatment of COVID-19, and the Senate did not include the request.

The letter joined by Veterans for Common Sense calls for Congress to work to enact the Fiscal Year 2021 Defense Appropriations Act, to ensure that the Defense Health Research Programs, including the CDMRP, are fully funded next year.

The full text is below.


September 10, 2020

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                    The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Speaker of the House                                 Majority Leader, U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20515                              Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy                The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Minority Leader                                            Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives                  U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20515                               Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader McCarthy, and Minority Leader Schumer:

We, the undersigned organizations urge you to work toward the enactment of the fiscal year 2021 Defense Appropriations Act, to ensure that the Defense Health Research Programs, including the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), are fully funded in fiscal year 2021.

Our organizations understand that Congress may need to pass a short-term continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown on October 1. However, we are particularly concerned about the possibility of Congress enacting a year-long continuing resolution in lieu of completing the fiscal year 2021 Defense Appropriations Act. Under a year-long continuing resolution the CDMRP would receive no funding in fiscal year 2021. Failure to enact the Defense Appropriations Act will have major negative health implications for the millions of Americans – especially veterans, military service members and their families – who live with chronic and debilitating disorders. This will delay important new discoveries and translation of medical innovation into new treatments and cures for many disorders.

We collectively represent millions of American veterans, military retirees, military families, and civilians who benefit from the ongoing research funded by the Defense Health Research Programs at the Department of Defense (DoD).  We have worked tirelessly to advocate for continued funding for the programs, and we were pleased to see that the House version of the fiscal year 2021 Defense Appropriations Act includes strong funding levels for medical research.

The Defense Health Research Programs will be unable to fully prepare for the fiscal year 2021 grant solicitation process until they receive a fully-enacted fiscal year 2021 budget. The CDMRP annually receives more than 12,000 pre-applications and 7,000 full applications for grants and undergoes a rigorous process to evaluate and fund the best of these applications. Further delay in enacting the fiscal year 2021 appropriations bill will create unnecessary disruption with internal processes at DoD.

These delays will have systemic impacts on the way the DoD convenes programmatic panels to identify and implement programmatic changes and peer-review panels to provide thorough review of grant applications, and ultimately impact the ability of the DoD to conduct appropriate negotiations to award fiscal year 2021 grants. Further, failure to enact a fully-funded fiscal year 2021 budget will compromise the ability of scientific laboratories across the U.S to effectively plan and prepare the highest quality grant applications, potentially diminishing opportunities to maintain discovery-based research programs and disrupting critical scientific workforces.

The CDMRP is a critical component of the Defense Appropriations Act, and failure to enact this legislation will have a devastating impact on the program.  Aside from the obvious biomedical and economic consequences of such actions, such as stalling or eliminating the critical development of new and more effective therapies that lower costs and save lives, failure to enact will interrupt important pipelines that have allowed investigators at U.S. medical research institutions to build careers and act on new and innovative medical research ideas.

We therefore urge you to work together in a bipartisan, bicameral spirit and enact the fiscal year 2021 Defense Appropriations Act.


Action to Cure Kidney Cancer

ALS Association

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

American Academy of Dermatology Association

American Academy of Neurology

American Association for Cancer Research

American Association for Dental Research

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association

American Brain Tumor Association

American College of Rheumatology

American Gastroenterological Association

American Psychological Association

American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

American Society for Microbiology

American Urological Association

Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation

APS Foundation of America, Inc

Arthritis Foundation

Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

Association of American Cancer Institutes

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Batten Disease Support and Research Association

Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network

Bridge the Gap – Syngap Education and Research Foundation

Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis

Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization

Cancer ABCs

Charlie Foundation

Child Neurology Foundation

Children’s Tumor Foundation

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE)

Coalition for National Security Research

Colorectal Cancer Alliance

Cure HHT

Danny Did Foundation

Deadliest Cancers Coalition

Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer

debra of America

Duke Health

Duke University

Epilepsy Foundation

Epilepsy Leadership Council

Fight Colorectal Cancer

Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne

George Mason University

Global Health Technologies Coalition

GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer

Harvard University

Hepatitis B Foundation

HIV Medicine Association

Indiana University

Infectious Diseases Society of America

International Myeloma Foundation

International Pemphigus Pemphigoid Foundation


Kidney Cancer Association

LAM Foundation

LGS Foundation

Littlest Tumor Foundation

Living Beyond Breast Cancer

Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Inc.

Lupus Foundation of America

Lymphoma Research Foundation

Melanoma Research Foundation

Miami Project to Cure Paralysis

Michigan State University

National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research

National Alliance of State Prostate Cancer Coalitions

National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH)

National Autism Association

National Brain Tumor Society

National Fragile X Foundation

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

National Pancreas Foundation

National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition

Neurofibromatosis Midwest

Neurofibromatosis Network

Neurofibromatosis Northeast

Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy

PKD Foundation

Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium

Prostate Cancer Foundation

Prostate Conditions Education Council

Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation


Scleroderma Foundation

Sergeant Sullivan Circle

SHEPHERD Foundation

Sjögren’s Foundation

SLC6A1 Connect

St. Baldrick’s Foundation

Susan G. Komen

Texas NF Foundation

Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance

University of Central Florida

University of Iowa

Veterans for Common Sense

VHL Alliance

Wayne State University

Weill Cornell Medicine

ZERO-The End of Prostate Cancer


cc:  House and Senate Committee on Appropriations


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