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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

 

VA Doubles Gulf War Research Funding

Oct. 30, 2002, 08:00:00 AM

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WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans to make available up to $20 million for research into Gulf War illnesses during fiscal year 2004, a figure twice the amount spent by VA in any previous year.

The announcement, made by VA Deputy Secretary Dr. Leo S. Mackay Jr., highlighted a two-day meeting of VA's Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses.  The decision was, in part, a response to a committee report in June concerning areas of research that need further study.

"We want the best researchers and the best ideas brought to bear on this long-standing problem," Mackay said. "Research into Gulf War illnesses is an area ripe for important discoveries." 

Studies by researchers from VA and the private sector have found evidence of a possible neurological basis for the complaints of some veterans. 

The committee, commissioned last January by VA Secretary Anthony Principi and chaired by James Binns, a Vietnam veteran, includes scientists, business people, Gulf War veterans and veterans advocates.  Some members have been critical of previous government efforts to diagnose, treat and research the medical problems of some veterans.  

"This is a huge occasion for our work," said Binns. "This is tangible evidence that this administration is different and committed to finding answers." 

In addition to the increase in funding, VA plans to create a special center dedicated to  medical imaging technologies.  These technologies are important to understanding Gulf War illnesses as well as other conditions important to veterans.

To date, the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services and VA have spent $213 million on 224 research projects to answer the questions surrounding Gulf War illnesses.  

"Science is finally beginning to unravel the mysteries of Gulf War illnesses.  And finally, there is reason for hope," Mackay said.

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