Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stress May Explain Gulf War Illnesses, Panel Says

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stress May Explain Gulf War Illnesses, Panel Says

Article excerpt

A presidential panel said Tuesday that the Pentagon had inadequately investigated the issue of Gulf War syndrome. But it said the physical toll of severe stress may prove a more likely explanation for the illnesses than the nerve gas that many soldiers blame.

A separate government study released Tuesday also cited stress as a possible cause. It found that more than one in three Gulf War veterans say they suffer certain illnesses, from depression to chronic fatigue - and that they are at least three times more likely to have these ailments as soldiers who were not assigned to the gulf.

"In some ways, the complaints . . . are similar to what we've heard from veterans of other wars," said Dr. David Satcher, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which funded the study of 4,000 veterans. The presidential panel also noted the similarity, citing World War II troops who came home with the same range of symptoms as the 1991 Gulf War veterans. President Bill Clinton instructed the panel Tuesday to stay on the job nine more months to provide independent oversight as the Pentagon continues to study the problem. Clinton also instructed his administration to liberalize further its rules so that thousands more ailing Gulf War veterans are eligible for disability benefits. "We haven't ended the suffering. We don't have all the answers, and I won't be satisfied until we have done everything humanly possible to find them," Clinton said. Elaine Larson, a panel member and dean of Georgetown University's Nursing School, said she was concerned "that neither the veterans nor the public think what we're saying is that this is in their minds. It is a serious problem, and it is something related to the biologic aspects of stress." After the war, many doctors infuriated veterans by saying, ` "You're stressed, what do you expect? …

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