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Critical Complaints About Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses Not Answered

By       Message Dennie Williams     Permalink
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"For the past two years," he wrote, "VA staff has been engaged in a backdoor campaign to rig scientific studies and reports in order to revive the discredited 1990's fiction that nothing special happened to their health, just what happens after every war, due to psychiatric stress. This campaign is designed to save costs by denying benefits, but it also has the insidious effect of misleading research to find treatments down blind alleys."

He gave this example of that so-called campaign: "An April 22, 2014, news report by MilitaryTimes disclosed that VA Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey opposed even using the term 'Gulf War illness' because it 'might imply a causal link between service in the Gulf and poor health which could necessitate ... disability compensation for veterans who served in the Gulf.'"

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Binns' figures show that "compared to the 250,000 who are ill, current VA statistics show that only 11,216 veterans' claims for health care and compensation for Gulf War-related illness have been approved."

His letter appeared after Congress began its own efforts to handle the situation. No one within the government has yet answered that letter, sent June 3, he said Monday.

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As a reaction to the overall scandal, U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, who is chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and John McCain, an Arizona Republican, are proposing a solution said to have support for passing in the Senate and the House, perhaps as early as this week.

That proposal would speed up the health considerations for veterans by leasing 26 major medical facilities in 18 states and Puerto Rico. It would make available $500 million in federal funding to strengthen the VA's ability to recruit and retain doctors.

And, the deal includes a measure to improve the delivery of care to veterans who were victims of sexual assault while in the military. Initially, veterans to seek care from private doctors paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It also would offer veterans in-state tuition at any public university, and it would extend those benefits to spouses of service members who died during their time in the military.

The never-ending scandals about the VA's and the U.S. Department of Defense's inability to consistently help sick, wounded and deformed Gulf War veterans has been ongoing since the first part of the Gulf War started in 1991.

As Binns said in his letter, the illnesses' likely causes are: "an onslaught of neurotoxic exposures, including anti-nerve-gas pills, pesticides, oil-well fires, and low-level chemical weapons released by the destruction of Iraqi facilities."

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Binns added: "These sick veterans have no effective treatments, but remedies can likely be discovered with the right research, according to the Institute of Medicine."

What is more, top officials of the White House, their administrations, Congress, including presidents in Democratic and Republican parties, have never proved effective in resolving these tragic and ongoing military veterans' health issues. That includes the administrations of George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

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Thomas D. Williams, a freelance writer, worked at The Hartford Courant for almost 40 years before retiring in November 2005 to become an investigative freelancer on Internet news sites. He has written a unique nature book, The Spirits of Birds, (more...)

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