Gulf War Illness: Apparently Not Nothing After All
Published: March 17 2008
In September 2006, I commented on a newly published medical paper that concluded: "Although veterans of the first Gulf War report significantly more symptoms of illness than soldiers of the same period who were not deployed, studies have found no cluster of symptoms that constitute a syndrome unique to Gulf War veterans" (
) In December of the same year, a paper was submitted for publication that was finally published in January of this year. That paper suggests that there might be linkage after all. We know this thanks to an article recently published in the Washington Post by Amanda Gardner a Health Day reporter.
Gulf War Illness Strongly Linked to Chemical Exposure
Apparently this newly published study, "finds a strong association between exposure to certain chemicals in the Gulf War [and the] illness suffered by many veterans." It seems there was a class of chemicals that are found in pesticides and nerve agents that were also found in pills given to soldiers to protect against nerve agents. The study looked at 115 other papers on topic. According to Joy Ray Miller, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy at Texas A&M; Health Science Center, "Some of this has been stated for a while. This article pulls it all together. It's definitely something to be aware of for our future veterans and for the military that's out there now. There are so many variants in the article that we can't really say as a matter of fact that [the chemicals cause the symptoms], but I think there are enough coincidences going on that we can have a pretty good understanding that maybe we should do something differently." As I mentioned back in September 2006, Veterans of the Gulf War have a higher rate of "chronic multi-symptom health problems" than non-deployed military personnel. Hopefully, when the recent study becomes more widely known, the attitude currently maintained by the VA can be made to change.
More information on Gulf War Syndrome
In the interim, and for a short article about Gulf War syndrome, see the University of Chicago Medical Center information found at (
This Week's Not Commented on Story - Why Am I Not Surprised
MANY RETURNING TROOPS STRUGGLE TO RECONNECT -- "We have people in almost every town in our state [Connecticut] who have served deployments, and the VA is just not going to be able to get to them all. We have to do more to reach out to them... to catch them when they fall." From a distance, the more than 11,000 state residents who have returned from war in the past five years have disappeared seamlessly into the Connecticut landscape -- back to colleges, spouses, civilian or military jobs. But up close, the transition has not been so smooth. A first-ever survey of returning state troops shows that at least one-quarter of them meet the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, while many cite problems with a spouse or partner and difficulties "connecting emotionally with family" as major concerns. The experiences of Connecticut veterans mirror their counterparts nationally, with data cited in a 2007 report by a Defense Department task force indicating that about 38 percent of soldiers reported mental health concerns in the months after their return. Among "citizen-soldiers" serving in the National Guard, the figure rises to 49 percent. The task force recommended sweeping improvements in psychological services to Guard and reserve members and their families.
--- Regards, Walt Schmidt