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VA funds $2.8M for Gulf War Illness research

VA funds $2.8M for Gulf War Illness research
VA is allocating $2.8 million for Gulf War Illness research. DoD photo

The Department of Veterans Affairs has approved $2.8 million to fund three new research projects that focus on testing or developing new treatments for illnesses affecting veterans who served in the Gulf War from 1990-1991. The research incorporates recommendations of the department’s Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses Task Force.

About 697,000 men and women served in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August 1990 to June 1991 during the Gulf War. In the years since they returned, nearly a quarter of these veterans have experienced chronic symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, gastrointestinal problems, cognitive dysfunction, sleep disturbances, persistent headaches, skin rashes, respiratory conditions and mood changes. The symptoms are known collectively as Gulf War veterans’ illnesses.

A recent report by the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Gulf War and Health, “Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War,” noted that chronic multi-symptom illnesses affect an estimated 250,000 Gulf War veterans. Given the findings, VA is embarking on a national Gulf War veterans’ illness research program to identify and adopt the most effective treatments for veterans.

“Last February, we welcomed (VA Secretary Eric) Shinseki’s decision to take a serious look at the disability claims of Gulf War veterans,” said Clarence Hill, national commander of The American Legion. “Now that VA is following through with these important studies of Gulf War illness, which has plagued many of the 700,000 Gulf War veterans for nearly 20 years, The American Legion believes these studies should provide a shared foundation for those veterans who need to be cared for and compensated for their disabilities.”

The first $700,000 will be available Oct. 1, 2010, the beginning of fiscal year 2011.

The studies are expected to take between two to five years to complete, and include:

  • · A five-year study to evaluate the impact of resistance exercise training (RET) in treating chronic musculoskeletal pain and associated symptoms in Gulf War veterans. The study will evaluate the influence of RET on total physical activity, pain sensitivity and regulation, and brain white-matter tracts. Dane B. Cook, Ph.D., of VA’s William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wis., will conduct it.
  • · A four-year study on an animal model of Gulf War illnesses to assess the effectiveness of therapies to enhance mood and memory. The therapies are designed to increase generation of nerve cells in the hippocampus, improving cognitive function and reversing depressive and anxiety-like behaviors. One strategy will test treatment with anti-depressant medicine and a drug or dietary supplement having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The second strategy will test use of either an antidepressant or an antioxidant/anti-inflammatory agent, combined with exercise. Ashok K. Shetty, Ph.D., of the Durham, N.C., VA Medical Center, will conduct it.
  • · A two-year pilot study that will include randomized, controlled, eight-week trials of an intervention known as “mindfulness-based stress reduction,” compared with usual care. Assessments of veterans will include symptom-based measures of pain, fatigue, and cognitive and physical function as well as objective measures of attention, concentration and memory. David J. Kearney, M.D., of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, Wash., will conduct it.

The IOM report noted that the illnesses seen in Gulf War veterans cannot be ascribed to any psychiatric disorder and likely result from genetic and environmental factors, although the data are not strong enough to draw conclusions about specific causes.

More in Veterans Benefits Center

 

Marco12

April 5, 2011 - 5:18pm

about 700.000 people is too much.. this war costed very much to american department.

Anthony Hardie

August 7, 2010 - 3:03am

The American Legion needs to relook its position on these "stress" studies. For too long, the American Legion stood beside DoD and VA while they did nothing to help Gulf War veterans suffering from very real chronic multi-symptom illness, now estimated (April 2010 report) by the prestigious Institute of Medicine to affect 250,000 of us Gulf War veterans. These studies are not only not helpful, but they were funded by VA staff who intentionally bypassed the Congresssionally-chartered VA Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses and the VA leadership created, internal VA Gulf War Steering Committee on Gulf War illness related research. VA has now issued new RFA's for research focused on treating Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, rather than stress. However, the Legion's position on these issues is not only overly favorable, but entirely uninformed. I hope the Legion will review its position and support Gulf War veterans rather than misleading VA press.

Anthony Hardie

August 7, 2010 - 2:58am

VA staff must be held accountable for implementing the changes called for by Gulf War veterans, the scientific community, Congress, and VA appointees. Even still, the advisory committees on which I serve are not always consulted on issues within their purview, advised of decisions made independently by VA staff without advisory committee consent, or heeded in the sound recommendations they make. These issues internal to VA and the U.S. Department of Defense have been at the root of many of the concerns of Gulf War veterans, and have surfaced repeatedly, including as recently as last week with the issuance of VA’s new press release on funding $2.8 million in new Gulf War health research. As a member of VA's new Gulf War Steering Committee (GWSC) and the Congressionally-chartered VA Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, I was surprised to learn of VA's newly funded research related to the health of Gulf War veterans, not f

pondwater

August 3, 2010 - 7:39pm

This is Horse shit-I think they-our Government have had more than enough-''EVALUATION''TIME TO FIGURE OUT THAT A LOT OF US ARE SCREWED UP DUE TO OUR SERVICE-THEY SHOULD BE PUTTING THAT 2.8 MILLION TOWARDS BENEFITS FOR THOSE AFFLICTED AND REAL TREATMENT.I THINK 20 YEARS OF FUNDING FOR THE DOCTORS AND STAFF OF THESE STUDIES HAS BEEN QUITE ENOUGH.WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PRESUMPTIVE ILLNESS CONNECTIONS? THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE EFFECTIVE HERE IN SHORT ORDER?

Sooners61

July 24, 2010 - 6:41pm

I was in VA Long Beach yesterday for an appointment and got sent down to X-Ray. Every time I go there Vets/Patients are sitting in a wheelchair or laying in a bed like their on public display can't cover themselves just sitting there humilated. They take better care off animals than they due Vets. Granted some Vets abuse the system but most are proud of their service and those of us who have health care coverage still go to VA because we happen to like one another!!!

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