Why the IOM has found so much PTSD in Gulf War Vets

By Jim Bunker National Gulf War Resource Center
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently concluded that there is sufficient evidence of a causal relationship for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Persian Gulf War (PGW) veterans that would in turn explain their other physical ailments.  What a slap in the face. 
When you look at only a select handful of research studies and discount most others, you can no doubt make a convincing case for PTSD as the primary cause of Gulf War Illnesses (GWI).  Veterans from today’s wars as well as the 1991 Persian Gulf War know better.  All one needs to do in order to find the truth is to use the internet.
The truth is, for the first 15 years after the PGW the VA focused primarily on PTSD, pushing the belief that that’s what was wrong with us.  This is how it’s been for years.  When the VA doctors don’t understand something new they write it off as a psychosomatic illness.  In other words, they’re telling us that it’s all in our heads. 
Yes, some of us do have PTSD.  Every time men and women have gone to war some have come home with PTSD.  Sadly, some even legitimately develop PTSD from having to fight with the VA to gain access to the benefits they earned through their service and sacrifice. 
These battles between the veteran and the VA continue to this day with not only our PGW veterans, but with our OEF and OIF veterans as well.  I just talked to a fellow PGW veteran and he is still having problems with the doctors at the VA in Houston, Texas.  Whenever he brings up GWIs, they tell him there is “no such thing”.
As Dr. Robert Haley’s findings show, GWI is not caused by PTSD, but from the various toxic elements that we encountered while serving in the Persian Gulf.  That is why his brain imaging studies are so important.  They show that something has adversely affected our brain cells, but exactly what caused it is still yet to be determined. 
There are many different chemicals and compounds that are suspect.  I feel it is no longer possible to assume that it was just one chemical.  We were all subjected to multiple chemical exposures during the PGW.  And with the strong evidence linking genetic predisposition, these chemicals very likely have affected different individuals in different ways.  Others yet remain symptom-free.
To its credit, the IOM report also had some good points for those of us with GWI.  The IOM has now categorically stated that GWI is real.  Something the VA’s own Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses (RAC) confirmed as far back as 2004. 
They have stated that there is sufficient evidence that gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and multi-symptom illnesses including chronic fatigue syndrome are indeed the result of exposures during the PGW.  These conditions are already listed in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for GWI.  I only hope that the IOM’s report will finally force VA doctors to look at PGW veterans in a new light.
We still have a long way to go in getting Cancer, MS, and other illness added to the list of presumptive conditions.  But we will persevere.
One of the other problems that I have repeatedly heard while attending the RAC meetings is that getting veterans to take part in approved research studies is quite difficult. 
This is one of the things that IOM falls back on as an excuse to minimize GWI.  For that reason alone it’s important that we all work together to ensure that as many veterans as possible, both sick and healthy, are able to travel to, and participate in these studies.

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