07 August 2012

First Gulf War veterans receive support from U.S. Dept of Veterans' Affairs

It has been 22 years since the start of the 1990-1991 Gulf War which comprises the deployment and combat operations known as Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Almost 700,000 Servicemembers were deployed during this period. Those veterans who have enrolled in the VA health care system have made over 2 million outpatient visits for health care and had over 20,000 inpatient admissions in the VA health care system according to a VA press release.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs has not forgotten the service and dedication of Gulf War veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “We continue to provide high-quality health care and benefits to them while we invest in research that helps us understand and treat Gulf War Veterans’ illnesses.”

In support of care and services to the veterans of the first Gulf War, VA has led efforts to better understand and characterize Gulf War veterans’ illnesses and to improve treatment. Research initiatives have included:
  • Funding an independent Institute of Medicine (IOM) review of scientific and medical research related to treatment of chronic multi-symptom illness among Gulf War Veterans. The report is expected in 2013.
  • Funding and encouraging a wide spectrum of research focused on identifying new treatments to help Gulf War Veterans, including studies on pain, muscle and bone disorders, autoimmune disease, neurodegenerative disease, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory problems, and other chronic diseases. Research is ongoing in other conditions, as well, that may affect Gulf War Veterans, such as brain cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS), and multiple sclerosis.
  • Launching in May 2012, the third follow-up study of a national cohort of Gulf War and Gulf War Era Veterans (earlier studies were conducted in 1995 and 2005; the health surveys are done to understand possible health effects of service and guide health care delivery).
  • Continuing the clinical, research, and education activities of the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center program which focuses on post-deployment health.
For more information on Gulf War Veterans’ illnesses, see: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/

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