Weatherford Democrat

Viewpoints

September 3, 2012

COLUMN: Veteran's Corner

— It has now 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. Those veterans have enrolled in the VA health care system and have made over 2 million outpatient visits for health care and had over 20,000 inpatient admissions in the VA health care system.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has not forgotten the service and dedication of Gulf War veterans. The VA continues to provide quality health care and benefits while investing in research that helps them understand and treat Gulf War Veterans’ illnesses.

In support of care and services to the veterans of the first Gulf War, the VA’s research initiatives have included the following:

• Funding an independent Institute of Medicine 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, such as brain cancer, amyotropic lateral sclerosis and multiple sclerosis.

• Launched in May 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.

• Continuing the clinical research and education activities of the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center programs.

The VA is also improving care and services for Gulf War veterans through initiatives outlined in the GWVI Task Force Report. These include the evaluation of a clinical care model specifically for Gulf War veterans and of enhanced education for health care providers concerns. Additionally, VA research strategic plans have been developed to address effective treatment for the symptoms experienced and to guide efforts toward improvements in diagnosis, understanding and the application process.

For more information go to www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar.

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