Image Copyright: Robert Turtil/Defense Department
By Patricia Kime, Staff writer
After the Institute of Medicine in March recommended using the term “Gulf War illness” to describe symptoms affecting more than 200,000 Persian Gulf War veterans, a top Veterans Affairs Department official expressed concern that such a change would imply a direct causal link between service in the 1990-’91 conflict and long-term illness.
That potentially explosive news was contained in an email sent by an IOM staffer to panel members who made the recommendation, including chairman Dr. Kenneth Shine. A copy was obtained by Military Times through a third party and later verified as genuine.
In the email, the IOM staffer said Allison Hickey, VA’s undersecretary for benefits, questioned the use of “Gulf War illness” rather than the VA-favored “chronic multisymptom illness” in a briefing on the report, “Chronic Multisymptom Illness in Gulf War Veterans."