Thursday, September 14, 2006

Iraq III: We Ain't Got No Stinkin' Syndrome

About 30 percent of the veterans of the first Gulf War report some or all of these symptoms: fatigue, memory loss, muscle and joint pain, rashes and difficulty sleeping. But never mind that vets who didn't serve in Kuwait or Iraq report a substantially smaller incidence of these. The Veterans Administration has declared that there is no such thing as Gulf War Sydrome.
It's going to be difficult to dispute the methodology of a class act like Dr. Lynn Goldman of Johns Hopkins University, who headed a National Academy of Science study done on behalf of the VA.

That is not the problem. The problem is that the VA, as was the case with Post Traumatic Stress and Agent Orange exposure suffered by Vietnam War vets, will use the study as a means to deny Gulf War vets special benefits they might otherwise be due.

I guarantee it.
Gulf War vets can now claim those benefits only by making an undiagnosed illness claim, according to Steve Robinson, a Gulf War Army veteran and government relations director for Veterans for America:
"They keep saying it over and over, every year. We know that -- we know that there is no single thing that made veterans sick. We know this thing is likely a combination of various exposures."
Nearly 700,000 U.S. soldiers, along with troops from 34 other countries, took part in the Gulf War. Once in the region, those soldiers were exposed to a wide array of toxins and other potential health hazards, including smoke from hundreds of oil well fires, pesticides, depleted uranium ammunition and possibly the nerve agent sarin, released during the demolition of a munitions dump.

Inadequate screening of soldiers before deployment in the Gulf War, coupled with a lack of environmental monitoring during the conflict, have hindered efforts to determine whether exposure to those contaminants is linked to any illness.

For years, the government denied the mysterious illnesses were linked to the war. It now acknowledges that at least some were due to wartime service. The government is no longer pointing to stress as the likely reason, as some federally funded studies had suggested.

The new study did find evidence of an elevated risk of the rare nerve disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig's disease, among Gulf War veterans. It found that they also face an increased risk of anxiety disorders, depression and substance abuse.

More here.

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