The Illusive Gulf war Syndrome


For many of the First Gulf War veterans with unexplainable physical, neurological and cognitive symptoms, fighting for their VA benefits has been an uphill battle. Several years ago at the Southwest Disability Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico a focus of the conference was the Gulf War Syndrome. One of the presentations showed an amazing documentary of the struggles encountered by Gulf War vets with severe debilitating symptoms to gain their benefits and access to care.

A former VA epidemiologist  testified before Congress recently about the VA’s failure to recognize the Gulf War Syndrome and to provide the veterans with problems stemming from the disease with appropriate access to care and disability benefits. The Institute of Medicine has defined the Gulf War Syndrome as a chronic multi-symptom illness which lasts 6 months or longer with at least 2 of the 6 following symptoms: fatigue; mood and cognition; musculosketal; gastrointestinal; respiratory and neurologic. In the documentary film showed at the Southwest Disability Conference each of these symptom sets was vividly depicted as the film followed veteran’s over time. One vet with severe neurologic problems was experiencing ALS-like symptoms and was totally disabled. Another struggled with severe fatigue, cognitive problems and devastating depression. Both individuals had received a psychiatric diagnosis and were receiving small disability payments but were totally dependent on others and requiring high levels of care.

We’re now dealing with the aftermath of another war and another group of returning veterans who may not have been screened for severe psychological and psychiatric symptoms like PTSD or brain injury stemming from multiple concussions and blast injuries. Its time for us to take care of our returning soldiers. We ask these men and women to put their lives on the line and we now owe them the care and resources they need.

Click here to read the MedPage summary of the Gulf War Syndrome.

About Rolf Gainer Ph.D.

Dr. Rolf Gainer is the founder of the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma as well as the Neurological Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario, in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Gainer is a psychologist with more than twenty-five years of experience in the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. Dr. Gainer has designed and operated innovative rehabilitation programs in the United States and Canada for individuals who have been regarded as difficult to serve. He is currently involved in conducting two outcome studies related to the long-term issues faced by individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. He has presented papers throughout the United States and Canada in many professional conferences and educational forums.

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