Researchers find Gulf War Syndrome is a real illness

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Approximately 250,000 of the 697,000 veterans — more than 1 out of 3! — who had served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War are afflicted with the Gulf War syndrome (aka Gulf War illness), a chronic multisymptom disorder that includes fatigue, muscle pain, cognitive problems, rashes and diarrhea. In 1991 during Bush the Elder’s administration, the United States went to war against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The war was codenamed Operation Desert Storm.
From 1995 to 2005, the health of combat veterans worsened in comparison with nondeployed veterans, with the onset of more new chronic diseases, functional impairment, repeated clinic visits and hospitalizations, chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness, posttraumatic stress disorder, and greater persistence of adverse health incidents. A report by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America showed that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may also suffer from the syndrome.
Many veterans have had difficulties getting benefits and treatment for the Gulf War syndrome because doctors assumed they were either faking it or suffering from post-traumatic stress. Now, researchers at Georgetown University have found tangible evidence that the syndrome is real, specifically that the nerve fibers that process pain in Gulf War vets are deteriorated when compared to the brains of “normal” people.

Kelly Kennedy reports for USA Today, March 21, 2013, that Georgetown University researchers say they have found physical proof that Gulf War illness is caused by damage to the brain — and that this proof may ultimately help civilians who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Using fMRI machines (“functional” MRI is a scan that measures activity by detecting how blood flows through the brain), the researchers were able to see anomalies in the bundle of nerve fibers that interpret pain signals in the brain in 31 Gulf War veterans. The research will be published in PLOS ONE journal.
Most hospitals already have the MRI equipment they need to do the exam, but they may need to purchase or install fMRI software, as well as to be trained to use it.
The findings are “huge,” because an fMRI allows doctors to diagnose a person with Gulf War illness quickly, said James Baraniuk, senior author and professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center. The research, he said, also shows that Gulf War illness is not psychological.
Many veterans have had difficulties getting benefits and treatment for a service-connected condition because doctors assumed they were either faking it or suffering from post-traumatic stress. Baraniuk said “That’s a problem with all physicians — VA, military or civilian. If it doesn’t fall within their small world of known diseases, then the patient is nuts.”
Baraniuk said the correlation of anomalies in the brain’s white matter with Gulf War illness has not been studied before. Researchers also found that fatigue and pain worsen congruently in the veterans.
Rakib Rayhan, lead author of the study, said to test the veterans, they watched the way liquid moved through brain nerve cells at rest and while the veterans were exercising. They could locate the nerves’ axons and determine how healthy they were. “We’re able to say, ‘There is something here,’ ” Rayhan said, and recommended that doctors “take these veterans seriously when they come in.”
In particular, John VanMeter, director of Georgetown’s Center for functional and molecular imaging, said they looked at the fibers that process pain: “The fibers in the Gulf War veterans have deteriorated compared to the control. Those fibers interpret environmental pain, but in the case of the veterans, a tiny pulse of pressure is interpreted as a painful pinch, or normal muscle fatigue from walking a flight of stairs could be interpreted as climbing to the fourteenth floor. They get, ‘I’m in pain! I’m in pain! I’m in pain!’ all the time.”
The researchers do not know whether the veterans’ symptoms will continue to worsen, though it appears they have from their onset 22 years ago until now. “The guys who were robust and leading the charge on this 10 years ago are now using canes,” Baraniuk said.
This research appears to correlate with previous research on Gulf War Illness, including a major study this year that showed problems in involuntary function, and a second that showed that as many as 100,000 troops may have been doused with Sarin gas when the U.S. Air Force bombed a munitions factory during the war.
The researchers suspect the damage came from environmental factors. Other researchers have found that as many as 100,000 troops were exposed to Sarin gas when the U.S. Air Force bombed an Iraqi munitions plant, and other researchers have found a connection between the symptoms and the ACHL-inhibitors found in nerve agents, the anti-nerve-agent pills servicemembers took, and the industrial-strength bug spray troops used on their clothing and skin.
Baraniuk believes that the three areas of symptoms seen in Gulf War veterans are all different stages of the same disease — and he will be able to show that in a future paper.
Army veteran Robert Ward’s symptoms began while he was still in the Middle East. He felt tired and his gums started to swell and bleed. He figured it was a fluke, until he read a newspaper article in 1993 and discovered he was one of many. Soon, he suffered irritable bowel syndrome, constant headaches, muscle twitches, rashes and muscle fatigue. For 18 months, he found himself bedridden. He moved in with his parents so they could help care for him. “This is a big deal,” he said. “This has ruined my life. I’m thankful that Gulf War illness patients will be able to get the help that they deserve.”
Denise Nichols, an Air Force veteran, also had symptoms while she was still in the Middle East, including irritability, hair lossand sensitivity to light and noise. When she came home, she had blurred vision and tight muscles. “I quit nursing because I was afraid of making errors or exposing patients to whatever I had,” she said. When she learned the results of the study, she yelled, “Yes! Yes! Yes! We’re finding real proof.” Still, she said, it’s bittersweet to wait 22 years.
The researchers themselves said they’ve been surprised by how little attention this group of veterans has received. “If 30% of Congress got sick, or 30% of Manhattan got sick, there would have been an outcry,” Baraniuk said.
I’m thankful that the team of Georgetown University researchers finally found out the truth.
My heart goes out to the afflicted veterans. Now that the researchers have identified nerve damage as the culprit of the Gulf War syndrome, hopefully the vets will now receive proper medical treatment.
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0 responses to “Researchers find Gulf War Syndrome is a real illness

  1. DUH! They just now figured that out?

  2. Seriously? I can’t believe it took them that long to figure that out. Maybe now our veterans will receive as good of health care as illegals do.

  3. Years and years ago, in Dallas there was a program for Gulf War Syndrome. This same treatment was also given to those with Fibromyalgia (sp?).
    Thee were clinics set up with lines and lines of recliner chairs and an intro IV of mass doses of Vitamin C. It did work. I don’t know if they are still doing it or not.

  4. I wanted so much to give credit to Bush the elder for being a good president. But this must have been something he knew about in detail. It makes me sad to think of the levels of betrayal here.

    • Do yourself a huge favor and read up about the bloodline of the Bush family. I do believe your entire thought process of that family will change in a flash . Sr. is one of the biggest pr*cks to ever walk the planet .
      Keep in mind this is the same man who coined the term ” new world order ” in ’91 . Another one of his classics is the answer he gave to a reporter-ette named Sarah McClendon . Check that one out !

      • I am aware of the “new world order” statement, which he did not coin. It is a concept that’s been around for a while, and when I heard him say it, I was chilled to the core.
        The Sarah McClendon incident would have raised alarms at the time it was made. I doubt its authenticity. People would have jumped on that statement like crazy.

  5. Melissa Theriot

    Please someone help my brother he is dying from this and doesn’t have much time! Please, does anyone know what the treat is or where to get help outside of the VA. The VA denies care for him. The VA is KILLING HIM!! They refuse to help. Please I don’t want to bury my 43 yr old brother. I’m begging and pleading with anyone who will help in any way.

  6. This country treats its combat veterans like sh*t.
    My dad is 84 and was a Marine stationed in harm’s way during the Korean War.
    He is now dying with Alzheimer’s, is damn near an invalid, and the VA is apparently hoping he drops dead before they have to do anything to help him.
    But I’ll just bet if my dad was an illegal alien named Hector Rodriquez from Guadalajara, he would be getting the red-carpet treatment healthcare-wise.
    This is beyond infuriating.
    And I expect this will only get worse under the Kenyan comrade Dear Ruler, as he hates America’s military more than even that traitorous commie puke b*tch Jane Fonda.

    • Dave, sorry about your Dad. My Dad is dead, but I just figured out he would have been 84. He was a Staff Sergeant in the Army in Korea also.
      No wonder we get in so much trouble together. LOL

      • Thanks, Steve.
        Yeah, it’s hard to function normally with all this going on.
        People just don’t “get it.”
        It’s like trying to explain diabetes to people who don’t have it.
        You might as well be talking to a mailbox.

  7. The Rand Report on Gulf War Syndrome, especially Chapter 11 that compares GWS to MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) outlined many scenarios including the Sarin exposure. But unless you factor in OrganoPhosphate pesticides into the civilian population exposures to make them correlate to soldiers then the only thing left is vaccinations that were literally run away from as a topic in the Rand Report. Nothing is true unless the Govern Mente has officially denied it. All of the symptoms and neurological damage can be attributed to vaccines and that would also explain how soldiers (Diers of Sol) who were NEVER in the Gulf could get GWS. The reason this is covered up beyond the litigation is that in litigation it would never be allowed. What no one is smart enough to, nor has the courage to face is that War is a Crime. Those who participate in war are criminals. In a court there is no Equity when the parties involved are both criminals. Even in criminal complaints such as a female soldier bringing charges of rape, they will be judge against every time with no explanation that one criminal bringing a complaint against another criminal is not allowed by maxim of law. That no one knows the ancient Roman maxims and those of other cultures shows the depth of ignorance for the system that they claim to have sworn to defend. It is this ignorance that causes people to seek out attorneys (Attorn = to twist) who are defined in law dictionaries as representatives of those who are children, feeble minded or insane. Make your peace with these words any way that you need to, only with the knowledge that your enemy is not these words but those who set up the system to cause such utter catastrophe.

  8. OK, that made my head hurt. BRB, went for duct tape. 😀

  9. My daughter is on her second deployment to Afghanistan. We’ll keep this in mind.

  10. yes,this is real. GHW Bush used our Military men and women for experiments. There are no words for this. This evil being needs held accountable. He is “nazi” through and through. The “Bush-Clinton” cabal are being exposed at present.

  11. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this most significant post. I, too, am so grateful and relieved that this syndrome is now appropriately defined and has been
    actualized by all of the evidence. Hopefully, the veterans will receive the help and the benefits they deserve.

  12. I feel bad for our military. They sacrifice so much and get too little in return, IMO. But they knew what they signed up for and are brave to continue the fight. God bless them!

  13. Years ago I worked in Government Documents at our local university and we would get government hearings. I recall one hearing on Agent Orange, and my then realizing that the government knew what these men were enduring. I think that may have been when my skepticism ran rampant!

  14. I strongly believe a lot if GWS is from nerve and chem weapons detonations. They slowly dismantle you over 20 years, piece by piece, by taking out your nervous system. Its torture while the VA clerks collect pay, the healthcare providers collect enormous testing fees with no benefit to the vets, the numerous VA research studies for at least the last 15 yrs don’t get disseminated to the healthcare providers, the politicians play with budgets and the vets continue with pain, suffering, loss of ability to work, and frustration!

  15. I have been suffering with it for about 6 years (at least that’s when it got to where I couldn’t handle working anymore) I go to doctor today with a letter from the staff of the president and she ignores it. They don’t want to help me. They tell me that all I do is sit around all day doing nothing and all I want is pain meds and that I’m too fat and out of shape and it’s because I fall all the time. She blames meds even though it happens first thing in the morning when I’m on nothing. I can’t get a doctor who believes me. She flat out called me a liar when I said I try to walk with my walker. She threatened to make me take an illegal drug test every day and I live 50 miles from clinic and make a non-svc connected pension that gives me just enough to pay rent and bills and a little bit for gas. And now I can’t get travel pay on time – used to get right away and now it’s lost in mail or something. So I’m screwed. There are tests the appeals board wants to give me that the VA is supposed to be able to pay to send me to in Jacksonville and DC but she doesn’t want to even talk about it even though the letter says she is supposed to. But if I complain I get treated like a child and could lose all meds and care and pension even though they say I have patient’s rights it’s just like when I was in the military. They said you could go to medical but if you did and missed work they would always hold it against you at advancement time and eval time. It’s just a terrible system. I won’t ever get the care I need no matter what article they come out with or test. Even the VA secretary has said they are going to care for us – the problem is the medical staff at the VA has not been trained or told to care for it because they have not initiated any type of protocol. It’s just an endless road that has no future. I will probably die before they give care. I was told by a vietnam vet who was dying of cancer from agent orange he had been fighting to get the benefits and treatment for 30 years and then finally when he has about 4 mos to live he gets it. He said, well at least my family will get the money now. Same will probably happen to me and most of the other vets I know with it.

    • Dave, I’m so sorry you are treated so shabbily. Perhaps you can band together with other vets who have Gulf War Syndrome? Alone, you get bullied, but with numbers, come strength and power.
      Here’s the American Gulf War Veterans Association if you don’t already know about them:


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