Magazine article VFW Magazine

Extended Health Care for Gulf Vets Approved by House

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Extended Health Care for Gulf Vets Approved by House

Article excerpt

The House approved a bill in August that would allow VA to continue treating Gulf War veterans with undiagnosed illnesses through 2001. Another bill, still pending at press time, would establish that all Gulf vets were presumably exposed to numerous diseases or dangerous substances.

Introduced by Rep. Cliff Stearns (RFla.), H.R. 3980-the Persian Gulf War Veterans Health Care and Research Act of 1998-extends VA health care for Gulf vets through Dec. 31, 2001, requires VA to seek advice from the National Academy of Sciences on ways to improve treatment for Gulf vets and establishes more independent oversight of the government's Gulf War research.

Bill Frasure, VFW legislative special assistant, says as-yet-untitled legislation drafted by West Virginia Democratic senators Robert Byrd and John Rockefeller will most likely be the companion bill in the Senate. Though Frasure says it is being touted as a priority, a vote on the bill before the Senate's recess in October "will be quite an accomplishment."

H.R. 4036-the Persian Gulf War Veterans Health Act of 199-establishes that all GIs who served in the war zone were exposed to at least one of 32 diseases or hazardous substances.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Christopher Shays (RConn.), would appoint a scientific body to identify illnesses associated with exposure to the substances or diseases. Gulf vets diagnosed with an illness identified by the body would then be eligible for treatment and/or compensation from VA. The 32 specific substances and diseases are:

Pesticides-chlorpyrifos, diazinon, dichlorvos, malathion, proxpur, carbaryl, methomyl, lindane, pyrethroids, and insect repellent (DEET);

Pyridostigmine bromide, a drug given to tens of thousands of Gulf vets for protection against nerve agents; Sarin and tabun, which are low-level nerve gases;

Synthetic chemical compounds, such as low-level mustard gas, volatile organic compounds, hydrazine, redfuming nitric acid, solvents and uranium;

Radiation-depleted uranium, microwaves and radio frequency radiation; Environmental particulates and pollutants-hydrogen sulfide, oil fire byproducts, diesel heater fumes and sand micro-particles; and

Regional diseases-leishmaniasis, sandfly fever, pathogenic escherechia coli, shigellosis and malaria. …

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