DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE RESPONDS TO THE PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON GULF WAR VETERANS' ILLNESSES -- INTERIM REPORT
In response to the public release of the Interim Report by the Presidential
Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veteran's Illnesses, Deputy Secretary of Defense
John White said, "The Department appreciates the effort, thought and
constructive input provided by the Presidential Advisory Committee.
"Like the Presidential Advisory Committee," White said, "the Department of
Defense recognizes that the issues surrounding Gulf War illnesses are very
complex. Since the end of the Gulf War, concerns have been raised as to
whether or not there is a relationship between illnesses being experienced by
some Gulf War veterans and exposures to various hazards during Gulf War
service. This concern is of particular importance to our Gulf War veterans and
their families. Because the Clinton Administration shares these concerns, the
Department is taking unprecedented steps to help resolve the Gulf War illnesses
issue and provide effective medical care for those who are ill."
The Committee's Interim Report provides a number of important findings and
constructive recommendations. Most of its recommendations for the Department
are either already implemented or will be implemented shortly. Consistent with
the Committee's suggestions, the Department is taking the following steps:
· In 1996, DoD will conduct a survey to determine how well its outreach
programs have worked in reaching active duty troops or retirees who served in
the Gulf War.
· The Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program Patient Satisfaction Form
will ask about referral satisfaction with the Persian Gulf Medical Registry
· A users' guide will soon released to help the public understand the
thousands of declassified documents becoming available on GULFLINK, the
Department's Internet resource. The user's guide will be available on
· Prior to any deployment, DoD will conduct a health assessment of
deploying troops. A new expanded medical surveillance program (including
quality control) and post-deployment follow-up is already operational for Joint
Endeavor in Bosnia. This program will identify populations at risk, recognize
and assess hazardous exposures, determine protective measures and monitor
· DoD will ensure all FDA requirements are met when an FDA investigational
drug is used. When DoD uses such a drug, informed consent is required unless
waived by FDA. (A clear description and documentation of the health risks and
benefits will be made to Service members, and an entry they got the drug will
be made in their personal health record.)
· Should controversial and unexplained health concerns occur in the
future, DoD has already pre-positioned hotlines and clinical programs to
· DoD is upgrading its medical records system resulting in better records
and a centralized data base that can be linked with other databases, including
location of units and exposures.
· All DoD funded internal and external research related to Gulf War
illnesses, including epidemiologic studies aimed at Gulf War veterans' health
issues, now incorporate external scientific review and ongoing interaction with
appropriate outside experts. In order to expedite some early DoD internal
research, external scientific review was not always utilized.
· DoD will continue to encourage its research Principal Investigators to
establish both scientific and public advisory committees for epidemiologic
· Over the past year, DoD, DVA, and HHS have taken steps to strengthen the
Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating Board and have it play a stronger role in
coordinating research, determining priorities for funding, and ensuring the
quality of the research.
· DoD is collecting more and better troop exposure data as shown by its
current efforts in Joint Endeavor and will have data available to health
· DoD's new unit locator and geographic information systems are
operational and preparations are underway to make them available to qualified
government and private researchers in 1996.
· DoD is working on better methods for detecting and identifying chemical
and biological warfare agents rapidly and accurately enough to enable troops to
take protective measures before being exposed.
· With the assistance of outside experts, DoD will continue to look at the
effects of and monitoring of low-level (subacute) exposures to chemical warfare
Under the direction of Secretary William Perry and Deputy Secretary John
White, an unprecedented effort on Gulf War veterans' illnesses has been
successfully launched. The investigation and declassification initiatives are
well underway. More and more research is being funded and completed. Much
medical evaluation and care has already been provided to our Gulf War veterans.
The Department of Defense, in support of President Clinton's commitment to our
Persian Gulf War troops and veterans, is leaving no stone unturned in the
search for answers and we are leaving no soldier, sailor, marine or airman
without the necessary care.