legitimized. I suppose I will just try to content myself with the
fact they have been and not concentrate on the suffering
and ridicule that victims of Enigmatic Illness have faced.
Remember only half this battle has been won,
the other half is finding adequate care.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A report released Monday concluded that "Gulf War Syndrome" is a legitimate condition suffered by more than 175,000 U.S. war veterans who were exposed to chemical toxins in the 1991 Gulf War.
The congressionally mandated report could help veterans who have battled the government for treatment of a wide range of unexplained neurological illnesses, from brain cancer to multiple sclerosis.
The Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses concluded that Gulf War Syndrome is a physical condition distinct from the mental "shell shock" suffered by veterans in other wars. Some earlier studies had concluded it was not a distinct illness.
"Scientific evidence leaves no question that Gulf War illness is a real condition with real causes and serious consequences for affected veterans," said the committee, which has been looking into the problem since 2002.
The committee, composed of independent scientists and veterans, said Congress should boost funding for research on Gulf War veterans' health to at least $60 million per year.
"This is a national obligation, made especially urgent by the many years that Gulf War veterans have waited for answers and assistance," the committee said.
Congress set up the committee in 1998, but the U.S. Veterans Administration did not appoint anyone to serve on it until 2002.
Gulf War Syndrome affects at least one-fourth of the 700,000 U.S. troops who served in the 1991 effort to drive Iraq out of Kuwait, or between 175,000 and 210,000 veterans in all, the report found. Few have seen their symptoms improve over the past 17 years, the report said.
Symptoms include persistent headaches, widespread pain, cognitive difficulties, unexplained fatigue, skin rashes, chronic diarrhea and digestive and respiratory problems.
Many Gulf War veterans suffering these symptoms say they met with skepticism when seeking treatment.
The panel found two possible causes: a drug given to troops to protect against nerve gas, known as pyridostigmine bromide, and pesticides that were used heavily during the war.
The panel said other possible causes could not be ruled out, including extensive exposure to smoke from oil-well fires and low-level exposure to sarin gas when captured Iraqi stocks were destroyed.
The U.S. government has spent roughly $440 million on Gulf War health research since 1994, but spending has declined in recent years and often is not focused on improving veterans' health, the committee said.
The report further highlighted inadequacies in the medical care veterans have received from their government.
A 2007 investigation by the Washington Post found combat veterans in the current Iraq war faced rodent-infested housing and bureaucratic hurdles as they sought treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the flagship military hospital in Washington D.C..
(Editing by David Storey)
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