VA is required by law to contract with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to scientifically review evidence for possible connections between Gulf War Veterans’ illnesses and exposure to environmental agents or preventive medicine during military service.
VA also is required to study the best treatments for these illnesses and distribute the information within VA to improve the care we provide to Veterans.
2013 report on treatment of chronic multisymptom illness
The Institute of Medicine released Gulf War and Health: Treatment of Chronic Multisymptom Illness on January 23, 2013. This report describes the scientific and medical research on the treatment of chronic multisymptom illness in Gulf War Veterans.
VA is currently reviewing the report and IOM’s recommendations.
VA’s response to 2006 and 2010 IOM reports
VA assumes that certain illnesses are related to qualifying military service, which is called "presumption of service connection."
VA’s final rule that took effect on August 15, 2011 specified that functional gastrointestinal illnesses (FGIDs), such as irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia (indigestion), are included in the existing presumption of service connection for medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses. Eligible Gulf War Veterans may receive disability compensation for these disorders.
At this time, VA has decided that it will not add further to the existing presumptions, based on the September 12, 2006 IOM report and April 9, 2010 IOM report. Read the notice in the Federal Register on April 14, 2011 for the rationale behind VA’s decision.
However, claimants may still seek to establish service connection individually for diseases and illnesses associated with service in the Gulf War.
Gulf War connected illnesses
VA already has established presumptions for some of the diseases and illnesses addressed in the 2006 and 2010 IOM reports. For example:
- VA presumes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) diagnosed in all Veterans with 90 days or more continuous active military service is related to their service. Because this presumption applies to all Veterans, there is no need for a separate presumption for Gulf War Veterans.
- When a Veteran of any period of service receives a valid diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), service connection may be granted if the illness is associated with an in-service stressful event.
- VA presumes certain medically unexplained illnesses are related to Gulf War service without regard to cause.
Also, VA recognizes nine infectious diseases as associated with military service in Southwest Asia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, which were addressed in IOM’s Gulf War and Health report Infectious Diseases.
Past Gulf War and Health IOM reports
- Volume 9: Treatment of Chronic Multisymptom Illness (2013)
- Volume 8: Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War (2010)
- Volume 7: Long-term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury (2008)
- Gulf War and Health: Updated Literature Review of Depleted Uranium (2008)
- Volume 6: Physiologic, Psychologic, and Psychosocial Effects of Deployment-Related Stress (2007)
- Volume 5: Infectious Diseases (2007)
- Volume 4: Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War (2006)
- Volume 3: Fuels, Combustion Products, and Propellants (2005)
- Updated Literature Review of Sarin (2004)
- Volume 2: Insecticides and Solvents (2003)
- Volume 1: Depleted Uranium, Sarin, Pyridostigmine Bromide, and Vaccines (2000)
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