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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 471-98
September 17, 1998

DOD ANNOUNCES GULF WAR ILLNESSES OUTREACH VISITS TO MARINE CORPS BASES IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Bernard Rostker, special assistant for Gulf War illnesses, and a team of subject matter experts and medical specialists will conduct an outreach visit to Camp Pendleton, Calif., on September 22-23, and Twentynine Palms, Calif., on September 24, 1998.

The purpose of the visit is to ensure that all who served in the Gulf and their family members are informed about available medical care, educate the total force on the complete and thorough investigation that is taking place, and inform the force on how we will apply our findings to future deployments.

The outreach team consists of personnel who are subject matter experts on various Gulf War illnesses issues. The team will provide briefings at various locations for Marines, their families, Reserve Component personnel, veterans, and interested community members.

Convention-style displays will be placed at high traffic areas on the installation during the visits. "We may not reach everyone, but we'll be readily accessible to almost everyone," according to Dr. Bernard Rostker, special assistant to the deputy secretary of defense for Gulf War Illnesses.

The two-day outreach at Camp Pendleton will culminate in a town hall meeting held at the base theater on September 23, from 7 to 9 p.m. The town hall meeting is open to the public. Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Naval Hospital on Camp Pendleton will join Rostker at the town hall meeting to answer questions on their organizations programs. The following day a team will address Marines at the Marine Corps Air/Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.

This is the fourth in a series of Gulf War illnesses presentations and town hall meetings held on military installations this year. Installations visited to date include Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Riley, Kan.; and Fort Campbell, Ky. Last year, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars hosted Rostker at meetings in 13 major metropolitan areas across the country.

"Last year, we concentrated on large cities to try to reach the most veterans possible," said Rostker. "This year, we're focusing specifically on large military installations to reach Gulf War veterans still in the military. We also plan to address force protection measures taken since the Gulf War, so the meeting should attract service members who aren't Gulf War veterans."

For more information on the Camp Pendleton outreach visit, contact Maj. Tom Peery, Camp Pendleton Office of Public Affairs at (760) 725-5109.