Thursday, May 20, 2010
The Institute of Medicine recently released a report detailing research findings and ongoing studies of the health effects of service in the Gulf War. The IOM brought together experts from across the country to review more than 400 published medical studies and reports looking at health symptoms suffered by Gulf War veterans. In their published report, the IOM concluded that Gulf War deployment can cause post-traumatic stress disorder.
Other conditions that the report listed as related to service in the Gulf War were: psychiatric disorders including anxiety disorders, depression and alcohol abuse; functional gastrointestinal disorders; and multisymptom illness, which is term used to describe medically unexplained symptoms.
“It can be hard to find the cause of Gulf War veterans’ symptoms,” said Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, director of communications for the Military Health System, in a recent interview with Pentagon Channel. “But even without a cause, we can still treat the symptoms – and we want to treat the symptoms.”
While Kilpatrick urged veterans with unexplained symptoms to seek medical care, he also explained that research into Gulf War Illness continues. Since 1994, the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services have committed $401 million to 347 research projects. Approximately 83% of these projects have been completed, with about 60 still underway.
Research findings are already being applied to service members today. Many of the current Force Health Protection and Readiness programs and policies are based off of lessons learned during the Gulf War. Today’s service members undergo both pre- and post-deployment evaluations so that doctors and physicians can establish a baseline and better understand the effects deployment can have on a service member’s body and mind.