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In 2004, the VA said it would no longer pay for studies that sought to show combat stress was the primary cause of the veterans' health problems. That decision came after the same advisory panel recommended that the department abandon stress studies and focus on toxic substances that veterans encountered during the war.
In 2006, the panel said congressional action resulted in changes in research at both agencies.
Congress allocated an additional $15 million annually for Gulf War research at VA. The University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas is using the money to identify biological abnormalities associated with Gulf War illness and working to develop tests and treatments.
Lawmakers also set aside $15 million for a research program managed by the Defense Department's Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs.
"Early indications suggest that development at both VA and DOD represent promising new directions in the federal Gulf War research effort," the panel concluded. But, the panel said, it is "far below that warranted by the scope of the problem."
Jim Bunker, the president of the National Gulf War Research Center in Kansas City, Kan., said taking care of the health of the Gulf War veterans has gotten pushed back repeatedly to the needs of veterans from the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We feel it's important to look at the veterans coming home now, but we're still pretty sick," Bunker said.
On the Net:
Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses: http://www1.va.gov/rac-gwvi/
Congressionally Directed medical Research Programs: http://cdmrp.army.mil/gwirp/default.htm
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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