Opening Statement of Honorable Ann Kirkpatrick, Ranking Minority Member
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Because we know that the deployment experience of our veterans is especially important in the world of research, and the care and treatment of injuries and illnesses, I want to thank you for holding this hearing on Gulf War veterans and the progress or not, of recognizing and treating these veterans, for ill defined and undiagnosed conditions.
It is estimated that up to 35 percent of veterans who have served in the Gulf War suffer from symptoms that are not readily identifiable or well understood.
In the Institute of Medicine’s report released just this past January and on which this hearing is based, these conditions are called Chronic Multisymptom Illness or CMI.
Veterans from the 1991 Gulf War have struggled for more than two decades to dispel the all too often accusation that “it is all in your head”.
Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have recently presented to the Veterans Health Administration with similar symptoms and have joined their fellow veterans in the fight for effective treatments and legitimate recognition of CMI by providers.
Keeping the struggle of this generation of veterans in the forefront of this Subcommittee is not just important, but crucial for us, as a nation, to finally look at service in combat not so narrowly as just that span of time served in combat, but to look at the whole experience of the servicemember from the perspective of pre deployment, deployment and post deployment as the sum total of the things that have happened to a servicemember.
Hopefully this hearing will provide us a better perspective and a more holistic approach in understanding their unique needs and the full toll that serving takes on everyone. In this way, we are better able to contribute to their healing and readjustment.
I think it is incumbent upon as to learn as much as we can about what our nation is asking of our servicemembers and families when they volunteer to raise their right hand.
We must recognize and be prepared to address the consequences of that service and bring to bear our best efforts to ensure that they are thoroughly prepared to serve and when they return home we commit to making them whole again.