Theodore's World: Loss of Funding Threatens Study of Gulf War Illness Research

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October 05, 2009

Loss of Funding Threatens Study of Gulf War Illness Research

Ground combat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War lasted just 100 hours, but it’s meant 17 years of pain and anguish for hundreds of thousands of veterans.

Loss of funding threatens UT Southwestern's Gulf War illness research

Dallas Morning News ....for complete article

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' cancellation of a $75 million contract with UT Southwestern Medical Center could mean the end to the Dallas university's research into treatments and cures for Gulf War illnesses. UT Southwestern epidemiologist Dr. Robert Haley told The Dallas Morning News that he and a team of 200 colleagues from eight universities are five years ahead of anyone else engaged in the painstaking research into why 200,000 healthy soldiers went to the Persian Gulf in 1990-91 and returned to civilian lives of chronic illness.

"Without the VA funding, discovery of a treatment is very low," Haley said.

~ snipet ~

Haley has been studying a small group of sick Gulf War veterans for 15 years. His findings show a range of persistent symptoms – chronic fatigue, chronic diarrhea, memory loss, joint pain, loss of muscle strength and persistent headaches – caused by battlefield exposure to pesticides and other chemicals.

The next step, supported by $15 million a year from the VA, was to be a large study of 2,000 Gulf War veterans. The results of that study would show whether chemical exposures harmed a significant number of veterans, Haley said.

A closer look at the body of research conducted by Haley and his colleagues shows possible ramifications beyond the health of Gulf War veterans. VA funding to support development of diagnostic tests and medical treatments for sick veterans might also have helped civilian homemakers, factory workers or farm workers who get mysterious illnesses after exposure to pesticides, Haley said.

"We are looking at unplowed ground," he said. "Nobody has ever looked at pesticide exposure and brain damage and chronic symptoms. People didn't believe this stuff was real, even in the civilian world, and it's never been looked at."

Benefits blocked

An estimated 700,000 veterans served in the Persian Gulf in 1990-91. Veterans groups had hoped Haley's work might break the gridlock preventing thousands of them from receiving disability benefits and medical care based on exposure to pesticides, nerve gas, oilfield fires or military-issued antidotes to nerve gas.

Haley is convinced that many veterans suffered brain damage from exposure to organophosphates (sprayed pesticides or insect repellants worn like flea collars) and pyridostigmine bromide (nerve gas antidote). He rejects the theory that Gulf War illnesses stem from post-traumatic stress – a psychiatric condition.
"Originally, this [Gulf War illness] was signed, sealed and delivered as stress," Haley said. "Now, we know it's a real disease caused by chemical exposure. It's now the conventional wisdom."

~snipet ~

Veterans groups, UT Southwestern and their political supporters in Washington are working to restore VA funding. If successful, they hope the money will flow as a grant rather than a government contract, which comes with many more rules and regulations. "You can imagine," Haley said, "if you have to go to the government every time you want to take a step, your job becomes a six- or seven-decade job, and everybody quits. Everybody's dead."

The VA announcement ending the contract came after repeated disputes between UT Southwestern and government contract managers. A scathing report from the VA inspector general in July accused Haley of violating all sorts of VA contract protocols.

Haley said the VA pulled the plug on his funding just as he was designing a study of 2,000 randomly selected Gulf War veterans – 1,000 sick and 1,000 healthy.

"The VA funding is the final step, the rifle shot, to prove this," Haley said. "Is what we found with the Seabees true of the whole of Gulf War veterans? And that is the final definitive question."


This is a website I have saved for several years about the Gulf War Syndrome. It is just one page but very long so I will just put the link here for the site.

Gulf War Syndrome

Biological Warfare Conducted on U.S. Military Members, and
Corporate Bio-Genocide Levied on the Planetary Population

A Lecture By Captain Joyce Riley in Houston, Texas on January 15, 1996


Wild Thing's comment..........

I have heard from several Gulf War Vets about this over the years.

Our government does this to our troops and then plays dumb. Then to top if off cuts of funding for it.
Murtha and Pelosi are to blame BIG TIME for cutting off funding for this.

Our government did the same thing with Agent Orange. And when they finally did recognize it, the care and funding came in spurts instead of across the board for our Veterans.

Also this is exactly why we don't want government bureaucrats anywhere near healthcare.


......Thank you SSGT Steve

SSgt Steve
1st MarDiv, H Co., 2nd Bn, 5th Marine Regiment
2/5 Marines, Motto: "Retreat, Hell"
VN 66-67

Posted by Wild Thing at October 5, 2009 06:47 AM


Maybe Dr Haley is getting too close to a controversial finding. Whatever the reason for discontinuing the studies funding, it is surely political.

The studies will apparently have spinoff discoveries that can help all of us. I would much rather put my tax money into medical research than give it to ACORN.

BTW, Dr Robert Haley was my senior class president in Dallas. I never knew him well, but he was considered by all to be a good guy and a straight shooter.

Posted by: TomR at October 5, 2009 02:51 PM

Tom, good point about Dr. Haley.
Thank you for the information about
him. wow that is interesting.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 6, 2009 12:06 AM