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The Gulf War Health Research Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 4261) is a bill that would alter the relationship between the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses (RAC) and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The bill would make the RAC an independent organization within the VA, require that a majority of the RAC's members be appointed by Congress instead of the VA, and state that the RAC can release its reports without needing prior approval from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.[1][2] The RAC is responsible for investigating Gulf War syndrome, a chronic multisymptom disorder affecting returning military veterans and civilian workers of the Gulf War.[3]

Gulf War Health Research Reform Act of 2014
Great Seal of the United States
Full titleTo improve the research of Gulf War Illness, the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, and for other purposes.
Introduced in113th United States Congress
Introduced onMarch 14, 2014
Sponsored byRep. Mike Coffman (R, CO-6)
Number of co-sponsors2
Effects and codifications
Act(s) affectedVeterans Health Care Act of 1992, Federal Advisory Committee Act, Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010, Persian Gulf War Veterans Act of 1998, Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2008
U.S.C. section(s) affected38 U.S.C. § 527, 5 U.S.C. § {{{2}}}, 5 U.S.C. ch. 57, 5 U.S.C. § 3109, 38 U.S.C. § 1117, and others.
Agencies affectedVeterans Health Administration, United States Department of Veterans Affairs, United States Congress, United States Department of Defense
Legislative history

The bill was introduced into the United States House of Representatives during the 113th United States Congress.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Gulf War syndrome (GWS), also known as Gulf War illness (GWI), is a chronic multisymptom disorder affecting returning military veterans and civilian workers of the Gulf War.[3][4][5] A wide range of acute and chronic symptoms have been linked to it, including fatigue, muscle pain, cognitive problems, rashes and diarrhea.[6] Approximately 250,000[7] of the 697,000 U.S. veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War are afflicted with enduring chronic multi-symptom illness, a condition with serious consequences.[8] From 1995 to 2005, the health of combat veterans worsened in comparison with nondeployed veterans, with the onset of more new chronic diseases, functional impairment, repeated clinic visits and hospitalizations, chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness, posttraumatic stress disorder, and greater persistence of adverse health incidents.[9] According to a report by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may also suffer from the syndrome.[10]

Suggested causes have included depleted uranium, sarin gas, smoke from burning oil wells, vaccinations, combat stress and psychological factors.[8]

In the year prior to the consideration of this bill, the VA and the RAC were at odds with one another.[2] The VA replaced all but one of the members of the RAC, removed some of their supervisory tasks, tried to influence the board to decide that stress, rather than biology was the cause of Gulf War syndrome, and told the RAC that it could not publish reports without permission.[2] The RAC was originally created in 1997, after Congress decided that the VA's research into the issue was flawed, and focused on psychological causes, while mostly ignoring biological ones.[2]

Provisions of the billEdit

The bill would make the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses (RAC) an independent committee within the VA.[1][2]

The bill would require the majority of RAC members be appointed by the chairmen and ranking members of the United States House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.[1][2] Three of the members would be required to be veterans, while a minimum of eight members "must be scientists of physicians, with expertise in areas like epidemiology, immunology, neurology and toxicology."[11]

The bill would also mandate that the condition be called "Gulf War Illness" instead of "Gulf War Syndrome."[1][2]

The bill also requests that the VA look at animal studies when investigating toxic exposure.[2]

The bill states that "reports, recommendations, publications, and other documents of the (RAC) committee shall not be subject to review or approval by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs."[2]

Procedural historyEdit

Debate and discussionEdit

According to Rep. Coffman, who sponsored the bill, the legislation is the result of an investigation by the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations which determined that the Department of Veterans Affairs was "exercising too much control over the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses (RAC)" and was "denying their ability to effectively and independently carry out its Congressionally mandated role to improve the lives of Gulf War Veterans."[1] The investigation found the misappropriation of funds, the placement of biased members in the RAC, and restrictions on RAC reports to keep them from circulating.[1]

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who supported the bill, said that it was our job to ensure "the VA conducts objective research on chronic illnesses experienced by Gulf War veterans, in an effort to find treatments that can make a difference in their quality of life."[1]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Coffman, Mike (14 March 2014). "Bipartisan Bill on Gulf War Health Research". House Office of Mike Coffman. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kennedy, Kelly (14 March 2014). "Congress seeks independence for Gulf War illness board". USA Today. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses: Illnesses Associated with Gulf War Service". United States Department of Veterans Affairs. nd. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  4. ^ Iversen A, Chalder T, Wessely S (October 2007). "Gulf War Illness: lessons from medically unexplained symptoms". Clin Psychol Rev. 27 (7): 842–54. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2007.07.006. PMID 17707114.
  5. ^ Gronseth GS (May 2005). "Gulf war syndrome: a toxic exposure? A systematic review". Neurol Clin. 23 (2): 523–40. doi:10.1016/j.ncl.2004.12.011. PMID 15757795.
  6. ^ "Gulf War Syndrome". University of Virginia. Archived from the original on 2004-07-14.
  7. ^ Stencel, C (2010-04-09). "Gulf War Service Linked to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Multisymptom Illness, Other Health Problems, But Causes Are Unclear". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  8. ^ a b Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (2008-11-01). "Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans: Scientific Findings and Recommendations" (pdf). U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  9. ^ Li, B.; Mahan, C. M.; Kang, H. K.; Eisen, S. A.; Engel, C. C. (2011). "Longitudinal Health Study of US 1991 Gulf War Veterans: Changes in Health Status at 10-Year Follow-up". American Journal of Epidemiology. 174 (7): 761–768. doi:10.1093/aje/kwr154. PMID 21795757.
  10. ^ Kelly Kennedy (23 January 2013). "Report: New vets show Gulf War illness symptoms". Army Times. USA Today. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  11. ^ Ruiz, Rebecca (24 March 2014). "Congress Confronts VA Over Gulf War Illness Research". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  12. ^ a b "H.R. 4261 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 27 May 2014.

External linksEdit