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In Wake of Breakthrough, Reps. Michaud & Roe Call for Continued Gulf War Illness Research

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Location: Washington, DC

Today, Representatives Mike Michaud (D-ME), Ranking Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, and Phil Roe (R-TN), also a member of the Committee, praised the recent research breakthrough on Gulf War Illness. According to Georgetown University Medical Center, their researchers discovered for the first time "that veterans who suffer from Gulf War Illness have physical changes in their brains that may account for pain from actions as simple as putting on a shirt."

The Georgetown study was made possible through funding provided by the Department of Defense Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP). Michaud and Roe, who have been lead advocates in previous years for GWIRP funding, have teamed up to lead a congressional effort to maintain the current $20 million funding level for Fiscal Year 2014.

"This research backs up what veterans have been saying all along--that what they are experiencing is physical, not psychological. Veterans of the 1991 Gulf War have struggled for far too long with unknowns, and we are now finally one major step closer to providing them with some real answers. Moving forward, our priority must be making sure this research continues and that exposed veterans get the care and benefits they deserve," said Rep. Mike Michaud, who in 2011 passed an appropriations amendment into law that secured a $10 million budget for GWIRP.

"These veterans deserve answers, and this research brings us one step closer to that goal," said Rep. Phil Roe. "I commend the Department of Defense for prioritizing this research, and I thank those at Georgetown Medical involved in this important study. I am hopeful that this funding will continue to yield important breakthroughs."

In a landmark 2010 report, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recognized that the chronic multisymptom illness affecting 250,000 Gulf War veterans is a serious disease not caused by psychiatric illness that also affects other U.S. military forces. The IOM report called for a major national research effort to identify treatments. In January 2013 a new report, also from IOM, confirmed that, "preliminary data suggest that [the illness] is occurring in veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well."


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