BU experts evaluate the science for landmark federal report
| From Explorations | By Caleb Daniloff
Gulf War veterans suffering a host of neurological problems have scored a victory in their struggle to legitimize their medical claims – thanks in part to public health experts at BU, whose research effectively debunks years of government denials.
A congressionally mandated panel, made up of leading scientists, medical experts, and military veterans, charged with shaping federal health research related to the 1991 Middle East conflict has concluded that Gulf War syndrome is a real medical condition and that it afflicts at least one in four of the 697,000 U.S. veterans who fought in Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. The landmark report, presented in November by the BU-based Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses to Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake, calls on Congress to appropriate $60 million for treatment of Gulf War vets.
“Veterans of the first Gulf War have been plagued by symptoms of ill health, including fatigue, problems with thinking, skin lesions, and gastrointestinal upset, since their return seventeen years ago,” says Roberta White, the committee’s scientific director and a professor and chair of the School of Public Health department of environmental health. “Despite their persistence and severity, these symptoms have often led to no diagnosis in a substantial portion of the war’s veterans.”