"VA doctor says Gulf War vets not getting effective treatments"

As far as I know, this USA Today article - "VA doctor says Gulf War vets not getting effective treatments" (7 January 2013) - hasn't been shared elsewhere on PR...

It features Dr. Nancy Klimas, and while there aren't many comments (12 perhaps), a few of them do criticize IOM, even linking the problem IOM-Gulf-War reports to the unwanted IOM- ME project. I'm posting the info/link here as another opportunity to share our voices:


A few lines from the article:

"As Department of Veterans Affairs physician Nancy Klimas told an agency panel Tuesday about the many successful ways her clinic has been treating Gulf War illness, veterans have responded with a combination of hope and anger. The hope came because her clinic appears to be making headway in using research-based methods to treat veterans with the disease...

The anger came because, although Klimas had been using at least some of her methods for a decade, none of them have been disseminated throughout the VA system for use in other clinics. Her testimony was part of the ongoing fight between Gulf War veterans, who believe the government is ignoring physical causes for their ailments, and the VA, which has been reluctant to support the veterans' claims.

...She said she has asked her patients to be their own advocates because many physicians don't believe the illness is anything but psychiatric.

'That was a great presentation, but I can't resist adding that this information has been in the hands of Dr. Klimas for 12 years,' said Jim Binns, chairman of the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, which met with VA officials Tuesday.

But until 1997, the VA focused on psychological disorders and not research to determine physical causes for the ailments.

In 1997, Congress mandated Binns' committee after a congressional report found that the efforts to find causes and treatments for Gulf War illness by government agencies were "irreparably flawed."

Binns said Klimas' use of research to create a plan to treat veterans is what should have happened at the top level.

Relations between the VA and Binns' committee have long been contentious and worsened last year when VA Secretary Eric Shinseki signed a directive ending the panel's independence and ruling that Binns' term would end this year. The board's budget was also reduced, and new members were appointed.

Binns said a House hearing last March in which a former VA epidemiologist* claimed officials purposely hid or manipulated data to avoid paying Gulf War illness claims changed relations with the department."

(*Edit: The epidemiologist is Dr. Steven S. Coughlin: http://www.forbes.com/sites/rebecca...cted-suicidal-vets-suppressed-study-findings/. Though I don't have a link handy, his testimony is available on youtube; bless him and wish there were more like him.)


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Posted below are a few comments from the article above ( so said comments exist beyond their original source, should it someday disappear - also good sources of info/inspiration to help pen my/your own comments, in my opinion. :) ):

"Penelope Jane McMillan · University of Adelaide

This disrespect for veterans has been exacerbated by the IOM redefinition of Gulf War Illness to Chronic Multisymptom Illness, with an emphasis on psychiatric treatment for physical illness. The redefinition has a big impact not just on current treatment (or lack of it) but also on research grants, thus affecting future understanding and treatment of the illness.

The IOM is poised to repeat this exercise for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which affects around one million Americans. This is despite a call from treating physicians and patient advocates from the US and the international community to disband the IOM process and accept the current definition used by researchers and physicians."

"Jerrold Spinhirne · Chicago, Illinois

Instead of pursuing promising medical approaches to the treatment of Gulf War Illness (GWI) such as Dr. Kliimas', the VA hired the non-profit Institute of Medicine (IOM) to write a report on the nature and treatment of the illness. This report issued in January 2013, as USA Today reported, is a disaster for Gulf War vets hoping to receive proper medical care.

The IOM report claims Gulf War Illness should be renamed "Chronic Multisymptom Illness" (CMI) based on a single 1996 CDC study. This name change will obscure the origin and specific nature of the disease. New research conducted on "CMI" is unlikely ever to benefit vets with GWI because of the broad, nonspecific redefinition of the disease. The IOM report effectively "disappears" Gulf War Illness.

Evidently, the VA decided it was cheaper to use the IOM to disguise the tru...e nature of the illness and deny Gulf War vets proper medical care than to spend the money on disseminating information on known effective medical treatments and conducting specific GWI research.

Doctors and researchers interested helping Gulf War vets with GWI should denounce this report as biased and unscientific. The report concludes that GWI should be medically treated exactly as if it were a psychiatric disorder, making if highly unlikely that our Gulf War vets will ever receive effective medical treatment.

This is the Institute of Medicine report's conclusion on the treatment of GWI which it now calls "CMI" -- antidepressants and psychotherapy!

"The committee notes that the best available evidence from studies of treatments for CMI and related health conditions demonstrates that veterans who have CMI may benefit from such medications as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and from cognitive behavioral therapy, which has been shown to reduce symptoms"

Here is a link to the GWI report which the VA brought and paid for: http://iom.edu/Reports/2013/Gulf-War-and-HealthTreatment-for-Chronic-Multisymptom-Illness.aspx"

"Mary Schweitzer · Disabled historian at Disabled at home since 1994
I have known Dr. Klimas for fifteen years and have frequently heard her presentations on biomedical findings in GWI. However, the DoD and VA have preferred to listen to the advice of British psychiatrists such as Simon Wessely, who does not believe in chronic illnesses, and thinks veterans suffering from GWI deserve only a Victorian diagnosis of neurasthenia. I hope that Binns was not blaming the messenger but rather the organized opposition to treating GWI that surfaced when an outside organization called the IOM, with no experience working with veterans or the disorder, was hired to create a new definition - one that would have set back research and treatment by two decades.

Klimas - and others - have found biomarkers such as abnormal cytokines patterns, and more recently, remarkable information is emerging from the marri...age of systems analysis with available data on patients, including genomics. At this juncture, the government suddenly hired an outside group to redefine the illness away from that being used in current medical research. It is hard not to suspect budgetary rather than scientific reasons for such actions.

The fact remains that we have had peer-reviewed published evidence of the biomedical nature and severity of GWI for years now. One can only hope that recognition of the true nature and severity of GWI will lead to greater respect by DoD for the disease, and new and effective treatments in the part of the the VA. It is unforgivable that these institutions should continue to try to save money by mistreating those who freely offered their lives in the service of our nation."

"Gina Giarrusso Bettor · Broward College

Mr Binns make I suggest the change of winds was a reckless man-made storm brought on by the IOM "definition to disqualify" the horrors our vets and soon to be ME patients truly suffer from. Multi system definition discounts Gulf War Illness. The IOM is being paid to disqualify ME against all experts advice to stop. Unfortunately we have witnessed the reversal of good science in Gulf War Illness and are being put in the same predictmament via the HHS decision to have the panel of non expert IOM panelists redifine ME. A complete waste of tax dollars. I hope all of this injustice becomes transparent to the politicians that cry out for transparency!"


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