Gulf War veterans seeking updated information on potential exposures to toxic substances, related health effects, and available VA resources can register to attend an Oct. 29 online event for the latest details.
The webinar runs from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Eastern. Interested veterans can contact the VA’s War Related Illness and Injury Study Center at (800) 248-8005 or NJWRIISCEDTEAM@va.gov; guests are welcome, according to a VA web post about the event.
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VA does not use the designation of “Gulf War Syndrome,” but it’s a popular term for a range of unexplained illnesses that afflict veterans who served during the war. VA presumes the following “chronic, unexplained symptoms existing for 6 months or more are related to Gulf War service without regard to cause,” per VA’s website, providing they appeared during active duty in Southwest Asia during the war or before Dec. 31, 2021, and are rated as 10% disabling:
- Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)
- Functional gastrointestinal disorders, to include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional dyspepsia, and functional abdominal pain syndrome
- “Undiagnosed illnesses” that include symptoms such as “abnormal weight loss, fatigue, cardiovascular disease, muscle and joint pain, headache, menstrual disorders, neurological and psychological problems, skin conditions, respiratory disorders, and sleep disturbances”
In addition to a Gulf War Registry Health Exam, eligible veterans may be placed on the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry and be eligible for care or compensation for themselves or their dependents.
In its report on the webinar, Military.com noted VA’s low approval rate for claims related to Gulf War medical issues – about 17%, or 18,000 of 102,000 issues, from 2010 to 2015, per a 2017 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. That’s three times lower than the rate of other medical issues over the same period.
The Oct. 29 webinar also will address VA research into the illnesses.
“These veterans are often overlooked as focus shifts to those who served before or after,” said MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret). “MOAA thanks VA not just for continuing its research into these ailments, but for reaching out to the affected community to ensure these veterans know the benefits they’ve earned.”