Gulf War Illness Not Caused by Stress  
UPdate Spring 2003

In a surprise about face, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) has discarded the theory that Gulf War illnesses are caused by stress and recognized that veterans may be suffering from brain damage caused by toxic exposures.

The decision followed release of a British study of 111 disabled Desert Storm veterans, which concluded that the illnesses were not psychiatric disorders.  Research results from studies which used brain scanning technology to document neurological damage also influenced the decision.

“It is increasingly evident that at least one important category of illness in Gulf War veterans is neurological in character … Magnetic resonance spectroscopy suggests a loss of neurons in selected brain areas in ill veterans, particularly in the basal ganglia and brain stem,” stated the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veteran’s Illnesses.

Dr. Robert Haley, a committee member and Chief of Epidemiology at Texas Southwestern Medical Center says the stress theory is now “dead as a doornail.” Haley was involved in initial studies using magnetic resonance spectroscopy to study Gulf War vets.

The VA announced $20 million in research funds in 2004 to pursue research into neurological damage among vets.  It hopes to create a center dedicated to medical imaging technology with the objective of gaining more insight into Gulf War illnesses and other conditions.  Earlier studies in this area were privately funded by millionaire Ross Perrot.