IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release

January 23, 2002

No. 02-01

(301) 585-4000
Contact:
Mokie Porter

 

VIETNAM VETERANS HAIL CREATION OF
GULF WAR RESEARCH PANEL

Vietnam Veterans of America Praises Principi’s Panelists Selections


(Washington, D.C.) – Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) today praised the decision of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi to formally establish a Gulf War Research Advisory Committee within the VA. 

“This is a step in the right direction,” said Tom Corey, VVA’s national president. “Many of the researchers and activists named to this panel have been past critics of the federal government’s approach to Gulf War illnesses, and the Secretary’s decision to embrace those who have differed with federal officials in the past sends a strong, positive, and refreshing message.” 

Principi created the panel pursuant to Section 104 of Public Law 105-368, which was signed by President Clinton on Veterans Day, 1998. The statute mandating the panel’s creation stated that the primary purpose of the panel would be to “provide advice and make recommendations to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on proposed research studies, research plans, and research strategies relating to the health consequences of military service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War.” 

Since the Gulf War ceasefire in 1991, at least 197, 902 of the 696, 667 personnel who served during Desert Shield and Desert Storm have filed disability claims with the VA. In December 2001, Principi announced the VA would consider amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) a direct service-connected disability among deployed Desert Storm veterans. The fatal neurological condition afflicts Desert Storm veterans at least twice as often as the national average, according to preliminary medical data released by the VA. 

“One key function missing from this new Gulf War research panel is the final authority to decide which research programs are funded,” Corey said. “VVA will address through new legislation. 

“Our goal is nothing less than a new national research institute devoted exclusively to the health needs of all generations of America’s veterans, and we will work vigorously towards that goal.”  

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

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