Human Rights Leadership Profile

      After 11 sets of hearings over a 19-month period, with testimony from nearly 100 witnesses — including veterans, leading scientists and medical experts — the subcommittee issued its final report in late 1997. Among its findings was that “The presence of a variety of toxic agents in the Gulf War theater strongly suggests exposures have a role in causing, triggering or amplifying subsequent service-connected illnesses.”

      While treatment of sick Gulf War veterans by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs has largely focused on “stress” and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” the report noted, “there is no credible evidence that stress or PTSD causes the illnesses.”

      The subcommittee condemned actions on Gulf War issues by the Defense and Veterans Affairs Departments, along with the CIA and the Food and Drug Administration, as “plagued by arrogant incuriosity and a pervasive myopia that sees a lack of evidence as proof.” It censured the CIA for failing to release documents that would help to understand the nature of Gulf War Illness and denounced the Food and Drug Administration for facilitating the use of experimental drugs on soldiers — and for failing to ensure they were warned of possible dangers.

      The report also contained 18 detailed recommendations, including legislation to aid veterans, creation or designation of an agency independent of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to oversee research into Gulf War Illness, and “an intensified effort to declassify Gulf War documents in any way related to Gulf War veterans’ illnesses.”

      Approved and adopted on October 31 by the full Government Reform and Oversight Committee, the report stated, “Sadly, when it comes to diagnosis, treatment and research for Gulf War veterans, we find the Federal Government too often has a tin ear, a cold heart and a closed mind.”


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