A study performed after the 1st Persian Gulf War found that there was a higher incidence of ALS (Lou Gherig's Disease) among veterans of the 1st Persian Gulf War. A key finding of the study was that the onset of the disease occured more frequently and sooner amoung service members that served in the 1st Persian Gulf War than in comparable populations.
The cause for this outbreak of ALS is unknown at this time.
Following the 1st Persian Gulf War I was diagnosed with an unidentified neurological disease that was similar to both ALS and MS. This was in 1998. Seven years after the war.
The DOD and VA put me through extensive testing and could not determine the nature of the disease I had. I am and was one of the service members specifically singled out for testing, monitoring and long term observation by both the DOD and VA.
The results of tests, along with my confirmed exposure history, worried medical officials in 2001 because they feared that I was just the begining of a possible wave of post war casualties that would flood the DOD and VA systems.
Following my testing and the confirmation that I was suffering from an unidentified neurologic disease, a number of formal studies were commissioned to assess whether or not others were affected in a similiar mannor.
In 2003, five years after my diagnosis, a study of 1st Persian Gulf War Veteran's confirmed that ALS was developing at a faster rate amoung service members of the 1st Persian Gulf War.
The official VA announcement of that finding follows at the end of this post.
I post this here to remind people that for years, like the Vietnam Veterans the doctors and official told we had nothing wrong with us, it was all in our heads. Then like the Vietnam Veterans who suffered for years from the effects of Agent Orange, cold scientific proof emerged to put that to rest.
What other diseases will develope amoung us Veteran's of the 1st Persian Gulf War is anyones guess at this time. I suspect that only time will tell.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Gulf War Service-ALS Link Confirmed
WASHINGTON – A recent scientific study supports a 22-month policy by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to recognize amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) among veterans of the Gulf War as a service-connected illness.
"Based upon preliminary research available in December 2001, I felt it was appropriate for us to act swiftly," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi. "I'm gratified that the final study supports that decision."
The study found that veterans who were deployed to the combat theater during the Gulf War were nearly twice as likely to develop the disease as veterans not deployed to the Gulf, accounting for 40 of the 107 cases identified among military personnel. The incidence of ALS was especially high among deployed Air Force personnel, who were 2.7 times more likely to develop ALS than non-deployed Air Force personnel.
"Earlier research did not provide a definitive answer to this issue," said lead author Ronnie D. Horner, Ph.D. Horner was with VA’s Epidemiologic Research and Information Center in Durham, N.C., when the research was conducted, and is now with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "We now have compelling evidence that service in the Gulf is associated with the occurrence of ALS among veterans of the ’90-‘91 Gulf War."
Another recent study by Dr. Robert W. Haley of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas also supports VA's decision to officially recognize ALS as a service-connected illness for VA benefits.The new ALS study, published in the Sept. 23 issue of the scientific journal Neurology and funded by VA and the Department of Defense (DoD), does not identify a cause for the disease or the increased occurrence in this group of veterans.
ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, kills cells in the brain and spinal cord that control muscle movement, resulting in gradual wasting of the muscles. Fatal in most cases, the disease usually strikes people between ages 40 and 70. The cause of the disease is unknown. Earlier this year, VA established a national ALS registry to identify veterans with the disease -- regardless of when they served -- and track their health status. Veterans with ALS who enroll will complete an initial telephone interview covering their health and military service and will be interviewed twice yearly thereafter.
For more information about VA’s ALS Registry, based at the Durham VA Medical Center, call 1-877-DIAL-ALS (1-877-342-5257) or e-mail ALS@med.va.gov.
The ALS Association and researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised the study leaders. Numerous medical, academic, veteran and voluntary health organizations provided assistance in conducting the study.
Since 1994, the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services have spent $213 million on 224 research projects relating to the health effects of military deployment. VA plans to spend up to an additional $20 million by the end of fiscal 2004.
People wishing to receive e-mail from VA with the latest news releases and updated fact sheets can subscribe at the following Internet address: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/opalist_listserv.cfm