DEBORAH HOFFMAN, NEWS 10 NET, SEPTEMBER 12, 2OO6
Local vets are reacting with anger to a Veterans Administration-sponsored report released Tuesday that concludes there is no such thing as Gulf War syndrome.
The study acknowledges that nearly 30 percent of all those who served in the first war in Iraq suffered or still suffer from an array of very real problems. But the report found there is no single pattern of symptoms to suggest one identifiable syndrome.
Don Harper of Sacramento is a veteran advocate and Vietnam War veteran. “This is the same thing they tried to do with Agent Orange,” said Harper. He says the Veterans Administration is simply looking for ways to “balance the budget on the backs of vets.”
The conclusion is a blow to veterans who maintain exposure to burning oil fields, pesticides, and other chemicals caused symptoms that include memory loss, fatigue, severe headaches, skin problems, and respiratory problems.
Congress and the V.A. can use the study to determine compensation levels for veterans of Operation Desert Storm. Harper says the V.A. has resisted calls to classify Gulf War symptoms as a service-connected syndrome. “It’s denial,” said Harper.
Nearly 700,000 U.S soldiers, along with troops from 34 other countries took part in the Gulf War.