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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Gulf War Veterans

Gulf War Veterans who develop Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) do not have to prove a connection between their illnesses and service to be eligible to receive VA disability compensation. CFS must have emerged during active duty in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations or by December 31, 2016, and be at least 10 percent disabling.

About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Man with extreme fatigue

CFS is an unexplained, severe and persistent fatigue that is not helped by rest. There may be flu-like symptoms such as sore throat, swollen lymph glands, low-grade fever, headache, muscle pain, and poor sleep. CFS often limits the person’s previous ability to carry on daily activities.

At this time, the cause is unknown. Because there is no definitive test, CFS is difficult to diagnose, although the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control has developed a set of diagnostic criteria. Patients may undergo a variety of tests to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms.

Treatment focuses on alleviating the symptoms. Patients often work with their health care professional to devise an individual treatment program. This can be a combination of traditional and alternative methods to address symptoms, activity management, and coping techniques.

Many patients report relief from acupuncture, yoga and Tai Chi, which are offered at some VA medical centers. Find the nearest VA medical center. Other treatment options include antidepressants, counseling, support groups, and muscle relaxation techniques.

Health concerns?

If you are concerned about chronic fatigue, talk to your health care provider or local VA Environmental Health Coordinator.

Veterans not enrolled in the VA health care system, find out if you qualify for VA health care.

VA benefits

Gulf War Veterans may be eligible for VA disability compensation and health care benefits for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, other medically unexplained illnesses (such as fibromyalgia), and certain infectious diseases.

Research on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and other illnesses

A study on Gulf War Veterans’ health by VA found that 1990-1991 Gulf War deployment is associated with an increased risk for CFS, fibromyalgia, skin conditions, and dyspepsia.


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