Yesterday Micah and I traveled to Waco to the state-of-the-art but terribly named Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, which I’ve bragged about before. It is truly a jewel in the Central Texas crown. Each quarter the researchers present ongoing or proposed projects to a Veterans Council and give us the chance to ask questions, shape research, and learn about their ongoing efforts. A lot of amazing research is taking place there including the nation’s only Desert Storm Syndrome study that includes medicine. The Regions study is a medication study seeking Persian Gulf War (Desert Storm) Veterans between 38 and 70 in Central Texas. They’ve got Vets from as far away as Houston and can pay a travel allowance or meet you in Austin, but there does need to be 14 appointments. The researchers are also attempting to educate and share their findings with the Veterans Benefits Administration, which, as Jeremy Schwartz lets you know here – “Waco VA office had the fourth-highest denial rate for Gulf War illness claims.”
It is important to remember that the VA is a giant operation, with the health side and especially the health research side completely separate from the benefits side. One of the problems the researchers have had in getting Vets to participate in the study is the lack of trust or past problems with the VBA. Don’t let this bad experience cause you to withhold vital information from other Vets. Participants in this study will help make the case that the VBA needs to get off its duff when considering these claims.
Advocates concede that Gulf War illness claims are among the most difficult claims that VA examiners encounter. According to Michael Figlioli, deputy director of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Gulf War illness is “intrinsically difficult to diagnose and treat. … (There is) no one distinctive set of symptoms that allow for a single, unmistakable diagnosis.” (Schwartz, 2017)
The researchers at the Center of Excellence in Waco are advocating for the Vets. Please check out this study, share the flier with your buddies, give them a call. They can’t prove anything without proof. Time to get after it.