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News Release


IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 116-95
March 09, 1995

PRESIDENT EXPANDS COMMITMENT TO PERSIAN GULF VETS AND DOD'S MULTIMILLION DOLLAR RESEARCH AND CARE EFFORT

DOD'S MULTIMILLION DOLLAR RESEARCH AND CARE EFFORT

"With strong support from President Clinton, the Department has launched an expansion of its multimillion dollar Persian Gulf research and care effort," Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Stephen Joseph said. "For months, the Department of Defense has been working closely with the White House, as well as with the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, on what more we can do for our troops. This joint effort has resulted in the opening of two Specialized Care Centers, $10 million more in research, and the President's Persian Gulf Advisory Committee. But more is needed. And more DoD initiatives are being developed for addressing the concerns of Persian Gulf veterans and their families."

Building on the care already being provided in the Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program (CCEP), the Department is launching two Specialized Care Centers whose major focus will be on diagnosing and treating those illnesses which are ill-defined or might have a unique relationship to the Persian Gulf experience. Going beyond the research already being conducted by the Department, the Department is funding an additional $10 million in research for fiscal year 1995 based on recommendations from the Persian Gulf Coordinating Board. At least $5 million of these research funds will go to competitively bid, externally peer reviewed research. Very importantly, the Department will be providing support to the President's Persian Gulf Advisory Committee announced Monday.

"As of February 25th, our Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program (CCEP) has completed work on over 2,000 Gulf War troops, double the number from our earlier report in December," Dr. Joseph said. "Our findings, consistent with earlier data, show no unique Persian Gulf illnesses affecting significant numbers of our troops. Further, our studies still indicate that over 90 percent of our troops returned from the Gulf War healthy. But we are not done. There are still Persian Gulf veterans suffering for whom we have no final answers and for whom we must press for answers." Already the Department is working with the over 15,000 Persian Gulf veterans and their family members who have registered their concerns. Thousands of troops have been diagnosed and treated already; thousands more will be cared for in the months ahead. At the same time care is being provided, the Department is funding more research on Persian Gulf troops' illnesses and their causes.

PERSIAN GULF ILLNESS -- UPDATE

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

(NOTE: Future updates will be provided on a quarterly basis.)

RESEARCH INITIATIVES ON ILLNESS AND CAUSES

DoD is engaged in a variety of joint research studies with VA and HHS. Among these are:

$10 M of additional Persian Gulf related research, of which at least $5M will be competitively bid, externally peer reviewed research on epidemiology studies, clinical care and pyridostigmine.

Examination of morbidity and mortality rates of Gulf War veterans (Naval Health Research Centers).

Comparison of birth defects in group of PG veterans with non-deployed group.

Studies to evaluate possible synergism between Pyridostigmine Bromide and other chemical agents (insecticides, DEET, permethrin). Additionally, male/female differential tolerance to pyridostigmine is being evaluated.

Kuwaiti Oil Fire Health Risk Assessment - Characterization of health risks to DoD troops and personnel exposed to oil fire smoke primarily based on air sampling in near burning oil well fires. Using standard Environmental Protection Agency risk assessment methodology the potential for significant long-term effects was determined to be minimal.

Results for several of these studies are expected to be reported this year.

CONTINUING COMMITMENT TO CARE

Findings from the Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program (CCEP) provide no evidence for a single or unique Persian Gulf illness.

Comparing the latest CCEP results to December's results, the distribution of the major diagnoses is as follows:

Mental disorders (as of February -- 21.0%; as of December -- 23.9%)

Musculoskeletal/Connective (as of February -- 15.5%; as of December -- 15.9%

Symptoms, Signs and Other Ill Defined Conditions (as of February -- 16.1%; as of December --14.0%)

Begun on June 7, 1994, the (CCEP) provides in-depth medical evaluations for DoD beneficiaries who are experiencing illnesses which may be related to their service in the Persian Gulf.

As of February 24, 1995, over 15,000 have enrolled in the Registry; 12,031 are participating in the medical evaluations and, of these, 4,678 have completed the examination and 2,074 have had their records validated and entered into the CCEP database.

DoD is establishing Specialized Care Centers (SCCs) in Washington DC and San Antonio to provide diagnostic and therapeutic modalities not otherwise available. The SCCs will use multidisciplinary teams to review cases, confirm diagnoses, and provide intensive programs, including those oriented at improving functional status of patients with symptoms of pain and fatigue.

DoD is enhancing its capabilities to protect the health of military personnel during future deployments with an emphasis on pre-deployment education, health hazards assessments in theater, pre- and post- deployment health screening, and medical surveillance.