The Environment and Mental Health: A Guide for Clinicians

By Ante Lundberg | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Environmental Influences on Illnesses in Persian Gulf War Veterans1

Michael J. Roy

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences The United States deployed 697,000 troops to the Persian Gulf for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 to 1991. Battle-related morbidity and mortality were remarkably low, and the incidence of nonbattle injuries and illnesses was far lower than has been seen in other military conflicts ( "Medicine in the Gulf War", 1991). However, subsequent to the war, some veterans have reported common, nonspecific symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, rashes, and joint or muscle aches. Concerns were expressed about the possibility of environmental exposures unique to the combat arena having an etiologic role. To address this, the Departments of Veterans' Affairs ( VA, 1992) and Defense (DoD, 1994) established registries for the comprehensive, standardized evaluation of Persian Gulf War (PGW) veterans. A national hotline was established and concerned veterans were encouraged to call to arrange evaluations. By June 1996, more than 70,000 had registered with the VA and more than 30,000 with the DoD (it should be noted that some individuals are on both registries).

The DoD's program is known as the Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program (CCEP), which has two phases. Phase I, available at all military medical treatment facilities, begins with a series of questionnaires requesting demographic information, chief complaint, presence and duration of

____________________
1
The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the author and are not to be construed as official or as reflecting the view of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.

-67-

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