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Members of Congress and veteran groups call for more funding for Gulf War illness research

Bradenton Herald - 5/4/2021

May 4—MANATEE — A Bradenton resident who is one of the national leaders in the fight for more research into Gulf War illness is encouraged that 80 members of Congress are calling for funding to help veterans of the 1990-1991 war.

"The progress being made to develop treatments is highly encouraging for veterans suffering from Gulf War illness," said Anthony Hardie, national chair and director of Veterans for Common Sense.

In addition, more than two dozen veterans, military, and toxic exposure organizations have stepped up to show their support for veterans of the Gulf War, said Hardie, himself a Gulf War veteran who suffers from a variety of ailments linked to his service in Operation Desert Storm.

"In short, the critical work of the program staff and brilliant researchers to actually develop effective treatments for Gulf War Illness would not be possible without such a broad base of powerful support," Hardie said.

Some of the most significant research on Gulf War illness is being conducted at Roskamp Institute in Manatee County.

The research is funded under the Gulf War Illness Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program.

"Veterans have been suffering for 30 years now as a consequence of their exposure," said Dr. Fiona Crawford, president of the Roskamp Institute, which has been researching Gulf War illness for 15 years.

Roskamp is preparing to kick off a clinical trial with veterans to see how a supplement affects their general health, and how the supplement affects inflammation and blood abnormalities. One group of vets will receive the supplement, while another will receive a placebo.

The research, however, goes well beyond Gulf War illness and could be useful in combating other types of toxic exposure, including from red tide, Crawford said.

In a joint letter, the congressional co-signers urged the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to provide funding needed "to continue this vital and effective program and to support its progress into more advanced, larger-scale clinical trials," calling it, "a model of how to conduct treatment-oriented research to address complex toxic exposure health outcomes."

"Veterans with Gulf War Illness have suffered for far too long," said Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, a Democrat from the Northern Mariana Islands.

"We must do all that is needed now to help all our veterans suffering the health effects of their military toxic exposures. That includes fully funding critically important treatment research programs to improve their health and lives, including this one for veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness," he said.

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, is among the 80 members of Congress supporting stepped up aid for the veterans of the Gulf War.

"Sandwiched between Agent Orange and Burn Pits, Gulf War illness is often the forgotten disability," said retired Navy Commander John B. Wells, chairman of Military-Veterans Advocacy Inc.

"Although more than three decades have passed, since the end of the Gulf War, we still have not solved the virulent toxic impact on the health of Gulf War veterans. The current bipartisan support for the Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) is heartening. We must continue to fund this critical research and Military-Veterans Advocacy calls on Congress to include appropriate levels of funding in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act," Wells said in a press release..

As many as one-third of the roughly 700,000 veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf War suffer from Gulf War Illness, according to research findings and the Department of Defense web page for the Gulf War Illness Research Program.

"Gulf War Illness is characterized by multiple, diverse symptoms that typically include chronic headache, widespread pain, cognitive difficulties, debilitating fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, respiratory symptoms, sleep problems, and other abnormalities that could not be explained by established medical diagnoses or standard laboratory test," according to the Department of Defense web page.

To learn more about GWI clinical research studies being conducted at the Roskamp Institute, call Megan Parks or David Patterson at 941-256-8018, ext. 3008.


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