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timetowinarace

Va Still Lowballing Gulf War Vets.

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Gulf War research spending falls short of pledge

Posted November 15, 2005 in ALS Research

Copyright 2005 Associated Press

All Rights Reserved

The Associated Press State & Local Wire

November 15, 2005, Tuesday, BC cycle

1:33 AM Eastern Time

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 580 words

BYLINE: By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer

DATELINE: WASHINGTON

Despite pledging to spend $15 million a year on Gulf War illness research, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spent only $400,000 this year on studies of how toxic substances affected the war's soldiers, says an advocate for the veterans.

In addition, no money has been spent on a new center to study treatments for soldiers exposed to oil fires, vaccines, nerve gas and other toxic substances as former VA Secretary Anthony Principi promised last year, said Steve Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, an advocacy group.

"They are breaking the covenant that they made with soldiers of taking care of them when they come home," Robinson said.

Robinson was to be among witnesses to testify at a hearing planned for Tuesday by Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. Shay's Government Reform subcommittee wants to know how well Veterans Affairs has done in following a law that regulates research on Gulf War illness. Shays is chairman of a House subcommittee on national security, emerging threats and international relations.

The VA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Thousands of Gulf War veterans have experienced undiagnosed illnesses with symptoms such as chronic fatigue, loss of muscle control, diarrhea, migraines, dizziness, memory problems and loss of balance. For years, the government denied mysterious illnesses were linked to the war.

Texas businessman Ross Perot personally helped fund research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas on Gulf War illnesses.

In 1998, Congress required VA to create a Gulf War illness research panel, but that did not happen until January 2002.

Last year, with much fanfare, Principi unveiled a report by the panel, the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illness. The panel spent two years reviewing recent Gulf War illness studies and recommended the VA abandon stress studies and focus on toxic substances veterans encountered during the war.

Principi backed the panel's findings by announcing the VA would set aside $15 million a year for Gulf War illness studies and it no longer would pay for studies seeking to show stress as the primary cause of the ailments afflicting veterans of the 1991 Gulf War.

VA's Office of Research reported in September it would spend more than $9 million for Gulf War research and a similar amount in 2006. But Robinson said members of the advisory panel found - after reviewing where money was spent - that only $1.7 million was for new projects and more than $7 million was for projects already in place before 2005.

Most of the $1.7 million was for research on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. The fatal, neurological disease affects about 100 Gulf War veterans.

Robinson said all new ALS research is being identified as Gulf War research, even though the disease affects more elderly veterans than Gulf War veterans.

"VA again has not delivered," Robinson said in prepared remarks.

Shay's office said the 1998 law requires VA to determine which illnesses may be associated with wartime toxic exposures.

"The purpose of the law is to give sick veterans the benefit of the doubt about whether wartime service caused subsequent illnesses," Shays said.

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Senate Committee on Appropriations

Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

Hearing on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

May 11, 2005

Testimony of Tommy John

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, my name is Tommy John. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today, alongside another former New York Yankee, to talk about a disease I care so deeply about – a disease which was named after a former Yankee – Lou Gehrig.

The reason I mention our affiliation with the New York Yankees is because it is through my career with the Yankees that I am involved in the fight to find a cure for ALS. While I was aware of Lou Gehrig’s disease during my playing days, what I did not know was that the disease would take one of my teammates – Jim “Catfish” Hunter. That’s why I’m involved in this fight. It is personal.

Many of you may remember Catfish Hunter as a great pitcher – a hall of fame pitcher who, like David and one of your colleagues, Jim Bunning, threw a perfect game back in 1968. You may remember him as a larger than life figure with his trademark mustache and Carolina accent. Jim was a great teammate. ALS took his life in 1999, at the age of 53.

As a friend of Jim’s back in North Carolina, I saw first hand what ALS is and how the disease can whittle away at the human body and how it can take a once powerful man and make him powerless. It is a horrific disease and we must find a cure for it.

My entire family, including my son Taylor and my wife Sally, who are with me here today, is committed to finding a cure for the disease that took the life of Catfish Hunter and thousands of others. I am an honorary member of the Greater New York Chapter and each year I am proud to attend the annual New York Sports Banquet, which is the single largest fund raising event for The ALS Association. My family and I also work closely with The ALSA Chapter in North Carolina – the Catfish Hunter Chapter – to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for ALS research. In fact, Taylor, who is a professional singer, performed at the Candlelight Vigil that was held on Monday evening at the Jefferson Memorial. He performed at last year’s vigil as well.

However, what I want to focus the remainder of my remarks on today is not what I have done or what my family has done to raise awareness of ALS. What I want to discuss is why military veterans – people who seem to be so strong, like Catfish Hunter -- are being diagnosed with ALS and dying from the disease at a greater rate than other Americans.

Although I am not a researcher, I am aware of at least three recent studies, which have found that military veterans are at an increased risk of dying from ALS. Two of those studies focused on the 1991 Persian Gulf War. One found that those who served in the Gulf were nearly twice as likely to contract ALS as veterans who did not serve in the Gulf. The other study found that young Gulf War veterans – those under age 45 - were more than twice as likely to develop ALS. The third study, which was conducted by researchers at Harvard, found that people with a history of any military service – Vietnam, Korea, and World War II – are at a more than 50% greater risk of ALS than people who have never served in the military.

I believe that we owe it to our nation’s veterans to find out why there seems to be an increased risk of ALS with military service. We owe it to people like Daniel Bourson, a veteran diagnosed with ALS who is sitting behind me with his daughter Erika. We owe it to people like Charles Dysart a veteran who also is. And to other veterans here today and across the country who are fighting ALS.

In this effort, we should also remember that ALS can strike anyone of us at anytime. Therefore, I urge the Subcommittee that while it is important to discover what may be causing an increased risk of ALS in the military, we still must focus on ALS research as a whole, for any progress we can realize in ALS research certainly will benefit the entire ALS community.

Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to appear before you today. I am pleased to answer any questions you may have.

__________________

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The VA likes to make a big PR announcememnt that they are going to do this but the record shows they do as little as they can get by with.

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Gulf War research spending falls short of pledge

Posted November 15, 2005 in ALS Research

Copyright 2005 Associated Press

All Rights Reserved

The Associated Press State & Local Wire

November 15, 2005, Tuesday, BC cycle

1:33 AM Eastern Time

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 580 words

BYLINE: By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer

DATELINE: WASHINGTON

Despite pledging to spend $15 million a year on Gulf War illness research, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spent only $400,000 this year on studies of how toxic substances affected the war's soldiers, says an advocate for the veterans.

In addition, no money has been spent on a new center to study treatments for soldiers exposed to oil fires, vaccines, nerve gas and other toxic substances as former VA Secretary Anthony Principi promised last year, said Steve Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, an advocacy group.

"They are breaking the covenant that they made with soldiers of taking care of them when they come home," Robinson said.

Robinson was to be among witnesses to testify at a hearing planned for Tuesday by Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. Shay's Government Reform subcommittee wants to know how well Veterans Affairs has done in following a law that regulates research on Gulf War illness. Shays is chairman of a House subcommittee on national security, emerging threats and international relations.

The VA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Thousands of Gulf War veterans have experienced undiagnosed illnesses with symptoms such as chronic fatigue, loss of muscle control, diarrhea, migraines, dizziness, memory problems and loss of balance. For years, the government denied mysterious illnesses were linked to the war.

Texas businessman Ross Perot personally helped fund research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas on Gulf War illnesses.

In 1998, Congress required VA to create a Gulf War illness research panel, but that did not happen until January 2002.

Last year, with much fanfare, Principi unveiled a report by the panel, the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illness. The panel spent two years reviewing recent Gulf War illness studies and recommended the VA abandon stress studies and focus on toxic substances veterans encountered during the war.

Principi backed the panel's findings by announcing the VA would set aside $15 million a year for Gulf War illness studies and it no longer would pay for studies seeking to show stress as the primary cause of the ailments afflicting veterans of the 1991 Gulf War.

VA's Office of Research reported in September it would spend more than $9 million for Gulf War research and a similar amount in 2006. But Robinson said members of the advisory panel found - after reviewing where money was spent - that only $1.7 million was for new projects and more than $7 million was for projects already in place before 2005.

Most of the $1.7 million was for research on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. The fatal, neurological disease affects about 100 Gulf War veterans.

Robinson said all new ALS research is being identified as Gulf War research, even though the disease affects more elderly veterans than Gulf War veterans.

"VA again has not delivered," Robinson said in prepared remarks.

Shay's office said the 1998 law requires VA to determine which illnesses may be associated with wartime toxic exposures.

"The purpose of the law is to give sick veterans the benefit of the doubt about whether wartime service caused subsequent illnesses," Shays said.

Same dance as agent orange.

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