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Of Desert Storm's 700,000 U.S. Troops, 26% Now Disabled

Gulf War Syndrome

Date: 6/19/2000

( -- Operation Desert Storm, which concluded in 1991 with seemingly light U.S. personnel losses, instead has proven costly to 183,000 Gulf War veterans who have been declared disabled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. reported that the disability rate from the nine-month Gulf War now stands at 26% of the 700,000 troops who served. This rate, 2-1/2 times the disability rate from the 10-year Vietnam War, is the highest disability rate for any modern U.S. combat experience.

The federal OmniSite also reports on a prominent scientist who says he is convinced that many thousands of Gulf War veterans suffer from the controversial Gulf War Syndrome (GWS).

"We've got 50,000 guys out there with severe vertigo and they're dying in traffic accidents at an alarming rate," said Robert Haley, MD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He said the GWS injuries from sarin nerve gas are responsible for killing more than 500 Gulf War vets in vertigo-caused auto accidents.

Haley and colleagues studied damage to the deep brain structures of Gulf War veterans.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs told FedBuzz that the government has spent more than $133 million trying to determine if a condition such as GWS exists, but no finding has supported a GWS category of illness. In fact, one VA official has told Congress that the majority of Gulf War-related disability claims involve knee injuries.

Whatever the cause, the rate of disabilities from the Gulf War far exceeds the rate of World War II (8.6%) and the Korean War (5%). Of all Vietnam War vets, 9.6% have been declared disabled.

VA attributes the high Gulf War disability rate to its better ability to assess combat-related injuries and its ability to communicate the availability of benefits to veterans.

This article was prepared by Health & Medicine Week editors from staff and other reports.

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