An extensive federal report released Monday concludes that roughly one in four of the 697,000 U.S. veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf War suffer from Gulf War illness.
That illness is a condition now identified as the likely consequence of exposure to toxic chemicals, including pesticides and a drug administered to protect troops against nerve gas.
The 452-page report states that “scientific evidence leaves no question that Gulf War illness is a real condition with real causes and serious consequences for affected veterans.”
By Alan Silverleib
A U.S. soldier wears protection against chemical weapons during the Gulf War in a February 1991 photo.
The report, compiled by a panel of scientific experts and veterans serving on the congressionally mandated Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, fails to identify any cure for the malady.
It also notes that few veterans afflicted with Gulf War illness have recovered over time.
The report, titled “Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans,” was officially presented Monday to Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peak. Noting that overall funding for research into Gulf War illness has declined dramatically since 2001, it calls for a “renewed federal research commitment” to “identify effective treatments for Gulf War illness and address other priority Gulf War health issues.”
According to the report, Gulf War illness is a “complex of multiple concurrent symptoms” that “typically includes persistent memory and concentration problems, chronic headaches, widespread pain, gastrointestinal problems, and other chronic abnormalities.”
The illness is identified as the consequence of multiple “biological alterations” affecting the brain and nervous system.