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.
The Institute of Medicine released Gulf War and Health: Long-Term Effects of Blast Exposures on February 13, 2014. This report describes the scientific and medical evidence regarding exposure to blast and health effects. VA is assessing the report to determine whether there will be any changes to its policies.
The Institute of Medicine released Gulf War and Health: Treatment for 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 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.
VA already has established presumptions or special rules for some of the diseases and illnesses addressed in the 2006 and 2010 IOM reports. For example:
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.