Joint Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives at 1:00 p.m. CDT.
Opening Statement of Hon. Jeff Miller, Ranking Republican Member, Subcommittee on Health
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I believe it is very important for us to be holding this hearing on Gulf War exposures.
We cannot forget the sacrifices of veterans who fought in the first Gulf War and must be vigilant in our responsibility to provide for the health care needs of all service men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect our freedom.
It has been over a decade since the first Gulf War. Unfortunately, to date, neither a cause nor a single underlying disease process has been identified for a wide variety of medical problems that thousands of Gulf War veterans have suffered from.
Yet, the scope of federal research on Gulf War illnesses is broad, ranging from small pilot studies to large-scale epidemiology studies involving large populations and major center-based research programs. Between VA, DOD, and HHS, the federal government has sponsored over 300 distinct projects related to health problems affecting Gulf War veterans and spent nearly $300 million on research relating to Gulf War veterans illnesses from FY 1992 through FY 2005, and, the research continues today.
However, because there was a lack of systematic baseline medical data and reliable exposure data, researchers have faced many difficulties and as a result many of the health concerns of Gulf War veterans may never be fully understood or resolved.
Of particular concern is the rate of ALS in the Gulf War veteran population. The relationship between military service and ALS should be aggressively investigated and the provision of health benefits for those suffering with this debilitating disease should be provided without question.
At today’s hearing, we will review what is currently being done to address the health consequences of the Gulf War. We will also examine if lessons learned have led to subsequent improvements in deployment health monitoring and evaluations, record-keeping research and health risk communication.
I appreciate the participation of all of our witness and look forward to the testimony. We will hear from several veterans of the Gulf War. Their unique perspective is extremely valuable to helping us avoid past mistakes and respond to the health needs of military personnel currently serving in the Global War on Terror.
Thank you Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.