Groups disagree about Gulf War illness research

By Kelly Kennedy – Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday May 20, 2009 19:02:24 EDT 

The Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs say an Institute of Medicine study shows there is no Gulf War “syndrome,” and that there is nothing unique about the symptoms 1 in 4 Desert Storm veterans suffer.  But the congressionally mandated Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illness say that not only is there a series of symptoms that make up a definable illness, they know what caused that illness.

Those opposing views were on full display May 19 in the first of three congressional hearings about Gulf War Illness.  “We do believe that Gulf War illnesses are real — but there is no unique set of symptoms,” said Craig Postlewaite, deputy director of force readiness and health assurance under the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

He based that view on the IOM study that concluded veterans’ symptoms vary too much to be seen as unique and recommended no more epidemiological studies.  “We feel like their assessment is complete,” Postlewaite told the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ subcommittee on oversight and investigations.  The Gulf War advisory committee disagreed. “They have the same types and patterns of excess symptoms,” Lea Steele, immediate past scientific director of the committee, told lawmakers. “Our review provides a clear conclusion.”


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