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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

October, 2006

 

VA Report Says Gulf War Syndrome Doesn't Exist
By Marie Seigenthaler

On the 12th of September, the US Department of Veteran's Affairs released a report that denied the existence of Gulf War Syndrome, thus unnaming the umbrella disease indicated by a multitude of symptoms found in Gulf War veterans over the years.
Since 1991, when veterans returned home from the war, there has been an onslaught of health issues affecting them. Leukemia, asthma, cancers, allergies, and lymphoma, not to mention birth defects in unfortunate offspring, are a few among the many in veterans. These ailments also plague the Middle and Near East, where many hospitals and doctors are incapable of assisting. Back in the States we have uninformed doctors attempting to treat symptoms of mystery diseases.

Prior to now, only one study has been conducted by the government for depleted uranium in veterans. 32 soldiers, out of over 900 thousand men and women serving in both Gulf Wars, were tested for clinical health effects caused by depleted uranium. Their findings? Nothing that significantly deterred their health. While this is too small a sample to gauge for the other veterans, at least that .00003% is unharmed.

The recent study was unique in that it was conducted at the request of the VA to determine the current state of veterans "irrespective of the exposure information". With a balanced mindset and assumptions cleared, a team of scientists set to work researching.

The hunt for reliable information in the clause of a subject as touchy as the Gulf War is difficult. Many studies had to be declared "secondary" to be used as context or background. The selection of information is just as frustrating. Many of the studies don't use the same definition for the same terms. Still others had "invalid" control groups, if any at all. But, by the miracles of science and improvising thereof, perhaps the first iota of reliable intelligence regarding GWS is unveiled.

Their results?
"No unique syndrome, unique illness, or unique symptom complex in deployed Gulf War veterans. Veterans of the Gulf War report higher rates of nearly all symptoms or sets of symptoms than their non-deployed counterparts; 29% of veterans meet a case definition of "multi-symptom illness," as compared with 16% of non-deployed veterans." The point of this report seems extraneous, given that the veterans have been told for years that there is no single cause to their symptoms. And as there were many nasties employed throughout the war, including but not limiting to Benzene, Sarin, insecticides, and depleted uranium, this should be a given.

So what's next? We have these results, so what are we going to do for the veterans? According to the report, the recommended actions are that we offer health screens both before and after combat, evaluate exposures, and look for "adverse health outcomes" such as cancer. One would think that we should have been doing this from the start by default.

But then, one would also think that our government would sooner release vital information regarding the welfare of American veterans than spend over 300 million tax dollars researching for a treatment to a disease that doesn't exist.

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