Gulf War illness advocates skeptical of institute panel
June 26, 2013
Veterans advocates expect a showdown between Gulf War veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs Wednesday when veterans plan to declare they have "no confidence" in new research commissioned by the VA through the Institute of Medicine, advocates say.
The Institute of Medicine will conduct its first meeting Wednesday to determine the definition of Gulf War illness, sparking concern that VA will label it as psychiatric, or, as it has done most recently, lump it into the category of "chronic multisymptom illness." That category includes veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, which is caused after exposure to trauma, or traumatic brain injuries.
"I am very concerned as an ill Gulf War veteran that IOM Gulf War committees and the board overseeing them are disproportionately made up of individuals predisposed toward views of Gulf War Illness that do not reflect current scientific knowledge, including the idea that it is fundamentally psychiatric or psychosomatic," wrote Anthony Hardie, a Gulf War vet and Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, in a letter to the institute.
VA officials "reject the notion some have put forward that these physical health symptoms experienced by Gulf War Veterans arise as a result of mental health issues like post-traumatic stress and TBI," said Josh Taylor, a department spokesman.
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