Deputy Secretary of Defense John P. White today announced
that he is increasing the size of the Persian Gulf Illnesses
Investigative Team from 12 to 110 people. This expanded
organization is designed to add significant additional resources
into learning the causes of Gulf War illnesses. He has named
Bernard Rostker as the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses
to direct these enhanced efforts. Rostker takes on this
additional assignment while serving as the Assistant Secretary of
the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs).
It has become apparent that there is still much that is
unknown about how Gulf War service may have affected the health
of those who served, said White. New information recently
gathered from a variety of sources, including individuals who
served, demands new and different expertise. For this reason it
is important to ensure this new organization has the proper
priority and sufficient resources to ensure we are taking the
best possible care of those who served. This new office will
coordinate all Department of Defense activities relating to our
inquiries into the nature and causes of Gulf War illnesses.
I look forward to working closely with Gulf War veterans,
both those on active duty and those no longer serving, said
Rostker. This team's mission is to aggressively increase our
outreach to those who served in the Gulf War and to ensure they
are aware of and receive appropriate medical care. I will leave
no stone unturned in looking for the causes of these illnesses
and will ensure that the Department applies the lessons learned
to future deployments.
Dr. White directed the new team to spare no effort in
investigating all incidents potentially related to illnesses
being experienced by those who served in the Gulf War. He
further directed that the team make certain that those
individuals who served in the Gulf War are aware of and receiving
necessary medical care for any problems that they may have as a
result of their service.
The new group will be made up of representative elements of
critical DoD components to ensure that our research efforts,
analytical efforts, and outreach programs are effective,
coordinated, meaningful and build on the very valuable work
accomplished by the many organizations throughout DoD that have
been working so hard on this vexing problem, said Rostker.
Dr. Steven Joseph, the Assistant Secretary for Health
Affairs will continue to be responsible for all clinical
To facilitate these efforts Dr. White also directed the
Reconstitution of the Senior Level Oversight Panel, which
Dr. White will personally chair.
The Panel membership will consist of the Vice Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretaries of the Military
Departments, the Under Secretaries of Defense and the
Assistant Secretaries of Defense for Public Affairs and Health
Establishment of an office of the Special Assistant for Gulf
War Illnesses under Dr. Rostker's direction.
The transfer of the existing Persian Gulf Investigation Team
to the office of the Special Assistant.
Termination of the staff office of the Senior Level
Oversight Panel as a separate organization with its personnel and
functions transferred to the Office of the Special Assistant.
Transfer of the existing GULFLINK sponsorship to the Special
The Department is committed to taking care of those who
served in the Gulf War, said Rostker. We owe it to our service
members both past and present to give these issues our highest