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Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses RAC Reports

The Research Advisory Committee (RAC) on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses released a November 2008 report, Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans (7.2 MB, PDF).

Congress created this federal advisory committee in 1998 to make recommendations to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs about government research on health effects of military service during the Gulf War.

According to the RAC report, research supports the existence of a chronic multisymptom condition resulting from service in the 1990-1991 Gulf War, which the committee identified as "Gulf War Illness." The RAC report further identified potential causes of the illness and supported the theory that the symptoms reported by Gulf War Veterans may be attributed to the combination of exposure to pesticides and pyridostigmine bromide (pills given to U.S. troops as protection against nerve gas).

VA's decision on Gulf War Veterans' illnesses

VA requested that the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) (formally known as the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine explain discrepancies between the findings in HMD’s Gulf War and Health reports and the November 2008 RAC report.

HMD disagreed with the RAC’s conclusion that chronic multisymptom illness is caused by exposure to PB and pesticides. The HMD update committee said in its April 2010 Gulf War and Health report that current available information is not sufficient to establish a causative relationship between chronic multisymptom illness and any specific drug, toxin, plume or other agent, either alone or in combination.

Based on a review of the information in the RAC report and HMD reports, VA decided that the evidence is not sufficient to establish an association between multisymptom illness and specific exposures. However, VA already presumes certain medically unexplained illnesses are related to Gulf War service without regard to cause.

Read the Federal Register notice for more on the rationale behind VA’s decision.

Research Advisory Committee reports

View reports of the Research Advisory Committee.

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