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Government Study Links Gulf War and Fatal Disease

The Washington Post recently reported that the US Department for Veterans Affairs has established a link between the Gulf War, and a specific disease. The VA said that military personnel who served in the gulf region during the war appear to be almost twice as likely as other veterans to develop ALS, the fatal neurological disorder commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The department said it would begin providing benefits and compensation to veterans who were deployed in the Gulf region during the war and later developed the disease, even though the results were preliminary. About half of the 40 Gulf War veterans who developed the disease have died.

The study’s results, though preliminary, will be seen by veterans’ organizations as evidence that “Gulf War syndrome” health problems are indeed linked to military service. The research, which included nearly 2.5 million military personnel, is one of the largest epidemiological studies ever conducted and offers the most conclusive evidence to date linking Gulf War veterans to any disease. Still, researchers don’t know why these veterans were more likely to become ill. Veterans have long maintained that a variety of illnesses are associated with service in the Gulf, but scientific evidence has been scant and the Pentagon has resisted making the connection. “There was massive denial and obfuscation for years,” said Tom Donnelly, whose son Michael, an Air Force fighter pilot in the Gulf War, is now paralyzed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

In October, a federally funded study suggested children of Gulf War veterans are two to three times as likely as those of other vets to have birth defects, but Defense officials questioned the research methodology and were skeptical of the results.
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From CADU News 9: Winter 2001/2002

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