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Gulf War Illness Has "Silver Lining," Joseph Says

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 1997 – Illnesses suffered by veterans of the Gulf War have taught DoD valuable lessons, according to the department's chief medical officer.

"Though difficult for us all, there is a proverbial silver lining with respect to the Gulf War experience," Dr. Stephen Joseph, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said at a Pentagon press briefing Jan. 7.

Following the war, he said, DoD developed ways to better protect troops from "the full range of hazards in theater, including chemical and biological agents [and] strengthened basic public health measures against environmental hazards."

The department also improved medical records and currently is refining a soldier-carried, computer-based medical dog tag. In addition, a new deployment and post-deployment medical surveillance system helps identify health problems for prevention or more rapid treatment, Joseph said.

"The lessons learned from the Gulf War make us better able to protect our people, better able to listen to and dialogue with our troops, better able to understand the causes of their illnesses, better able to prevent illness and injury and better able to diagnose and treat what we cannot prevent."

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