Gulf War vet health research lacking

Even as possibly hundreds of thousands of veterans suffer from a collection of symptoms commonly called Gulf War illness, the government has done too little to find treatments for their health problems nearly two decades after the war ended, a panel commissioned by Congress said.

The advisory panel of medical experts and veterans wants at least $60 million spent annually for research, calling it a “national obligation,” according to its report, obtained by The Associated Press.

By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer

The report, which goes to the Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake on Monday, said the Defense Department cut research money from $30 million in 2001 to less than $5 million in 2006. Both departments have identified some of their research as “Gulf War research” even when it did not entirely focus on the issue.

“Substantial federal Gulf War research funding has been used for studies that have little or no relevance to the health of Gulf War veterans,” the panel concluded.

Independent scientists have declared that the symptoms of veterans of the 1991 Gulf War do not constitute a single syndrome. They have pointed to pesticide, used to control insects, and pyridostigmine bromide pills, given to protect troops from nerve agents, as probable culprits for some of the varied symptoms.

Based on earlier studies, the panel estimates that between 175,000 and 210,000 veterans from the war suffer from a pattern of symptoms related to their service. It notes that about one-quarter to one-third of those who served are affected by complex symptoms at rates higher than those in the military who did not deploy. Symptoms include fatigue, memory loss, pain, headaches, and difficulty sleeping.

“Studies indicate that few veterans with Gulf War illness have recovered over time and only a small minority have substantially improved. … Few treatments have been studied and none have been shown to provide significant benefit for a substantial number of ill veterans,” the panel concluded.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081114/ap_on_go_ca_
st_pe/gulf_war_illness;_ylt=AqAfuTZjVxPi2cxYvFvew7as0NUE

WarGulf photobox.jpg
Above: Images from the “Gulf War” Clockwise from top: USAF aircraft flying over burning Kuwaiti oil wells; British troops in Operation Granby; Camera view of a Lockheed AC-130; Highway of Death; M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle 

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