Gulf War Veterans Endorse Health Bill
The National Gulf War Resource Center (NGWRC), a coalition of 51 grassroots organizations based in Washington, DC, in June 1998 announced their endorsement of a comprehensive Gulf War health care bill introduced by Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT). In less than two weeks, the bill has gained widespread support, including 37 co- sponsors in the House of Representatives.
The bill, titled "Persian Gulf War Veterans Health Act of 1998," presumes exposure to a wide array of toxins, including chemical warfare agents, for approximately 700,000 Gulf War veterans. More than 110,000 Desert Storm veterans currently suffer from Gulf War Illnesses, which include immune system disorders, respiratory problems, neurological problems and many undiagnosed conditions.
The bill establishes an independent medical panel to determine what link, if any, exists between toxic exposures and the illnesses. Once a connection between the illnesses and military service is determined, the veterans become eligible for health care and compensation. "Passage of this bill eases the burden of evidence needed by veterans to obtain government benefits," said Christ Kornkven, President of the NGWRC. "We thank Congressman Shays for introducing HR 4036. Gulf War veterans, their families, and their friends should also take credit for the many years of hard work it has taken for Congress to listen to our concerns and to act decisively. This bill is our number one priority this year," Kornkven declared.
"We remember the yellow ribbons on doors across this country during the fighting in 1990 and 1991. Starting today, we urge veterans, veterans' groups, and the public to call Washington to show their support again for veterans so we may receive the health care we desperately need," Kornkven added.
The Chemical Weapons Working Group and NGWRC have together made the link between veterans' exposures to chemical agent in the Gulf, and the potential for U.S. civilians to be exposed to agent if the Army moves forward with its chemical weapons incineration program. The experience of the Gulf War shows that we should not assume low level exposures to chemical agent are safe.
For more information on Gulf War Illness or the NGWRC, call 800-882-1316 x162, or visit the web site at www.gulfweb.org/ngwrc.
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