(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Kit Bond (R-MO), and John Rockefeller (D-WV) today renewed their calls for the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense (DoD) to notify and care for Gulf War veterans who may have been exposed to dangerous sarin nerve gas in 1991.
Two new Dod and VA funded research studies show a "significant association" between Gulf War illnesses and nerve agent exposure in Khamisiyah, Iraq in 1991, when an Iraqi arms depot was destroyed. Over 100,000 U.S. troops were exposed to the toxic agents and since that time, troops who served in the Gulf War have reported various health problems, including chronic fatigue, memory problems and various neurological disorders.
The Senators, who sent a letter to the Secretaries of both agencies on May 2nd asking for increased research, better outreach, and more effective treatments for the thousands of ill Gulf War veterans, are stunned by statements by the Pentagon that they have not yet decided whether to inform veterans about the possibility of a link between exposure and brain damage.
The Senators also expressed concern about the agencies' ability to treat and track these Gulf War veterans at a time when they seem to be overwhelmed by the physical and mental injuries facing troops and veterans of the current War in Iraq, and asked for a specific plan for how the VA and DoD will care for exposed Gulf War veterans.
As of today, the Senators have not received a response from either the VA or DoD.
Read the Senators' letter to DoD Secretary Robert Gates and VA Secretary James Nicholson follows.