VA to reopen Gulf War veterans’ files
Many veterans who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm are suffering from a range of physical disabilities, chronic ailments, and unexplained illnesses which may be due to an “undiagnosed illness.” Thousands of veterans who served in the Gulf War have come down with a pattern of symptoms that include rashes, joint and muscle pain, sleep issues, and gastrointestinal problems. However the cause of these problems remains unclear.
What is clear is that many Gulf War veterans are suffering from very real physical problems, and they are concerned along with their families about the long and short term consequences of these health problems. Many of these veterans suffering from what’s commonly called “Gulf War illness” have turned to the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) for assistance. Congress has recognized, however, that “many ill Gulf veterans report having been told when they sought medical treatment that their ailments were ‘all in their heads.’” Report of the Special Investigation Unit of Gulf War Illness, 105th Congress. See https://www1.va.gov/rac-gwvi/docs/USSenate_ReportoftheSIUonGulfWarIllnesses_ReportNo105-39PartI_1998.pdf
The Washington Post has recently reported that in an effort to change this attitude on the part of VA, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki, has confirmed that VA will be re-examining the disability claims of what could be thousands of Gulf War veterans suffering from ailments. VA does not have an estimate of the number of veterans who may be affected, but it could be in the thousands. VA also plans to improve training for medical staff working with Gulf War veterans and a review of “Gulf War illness” regulations to ensure that veterans receive the compensation they are entitled to by law.