The Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating
Board Action Plan
with Respect to the Findings and Recommendations
of the Presidential Advisory Committee
on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses Final Report
The Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating Board comprised
of the Secretaries of Defense (DoD), Health and Human Services (DHHS), and
Veterans Affairs (VA) greatly appreciates the effort, thought and constructive
recommendations provided by the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf
War Veterans' Illnesses in its final report.
Like the Presidential Advisory Committee, the three Departments recognize
that the issues surrounding Gulf War veterans' illnesses are complex. Since
the end of the Gulf War, concerns have been raised as to whether there is
a relationship between the illnesses (diagnosed and undiagnosed) being experienced
by some Gulf War veterans and their family members and a variety of possible
hazardous exposures during service, including chemical warfare agents. We
share these concerns and are taking concrete steps to determine the causes
of these illnesses and to provide care for veterans who are ill.
The Presidential Advisory Committee's "Final Report" provides
a number of important findings and valuable recommendations. This plan outlines
the Departments' actions, including those already partially or fully
implemented, taken in response to the findings and recommendations of
the Presidential Advisory Committee in their "Final Report." This
Action Plan is a dynamic document which will need to be revisited and adjusted
as information becomes available and we learn more. Furthermore, in the
upcoming weeks, the three Departments and the Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating
Board will develop specific timelines for the actions proposed.
The plan addresses actions to be taken in the areas of outreach, medical
and clinical issues, research, coordination, investigations, and chemical
and biological weapons. These actions include:
- Initiation of a Presidential Review Directive
pursuant to which the National Science and Technology Council will create
an interagency plan to address health preparedness for, and readjustment
of, veterans and their families after future conflicts and peacekeeping
- The Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating Board's
Clinical Working Group will develop a comprehensive risk communication
plan. Government and non-government risk communication experts will be
engaged to assist in development and implementation of the plan.
- VA Transition Assistance Program briefings for
service members separating from active duty will emphasize the VA programs
and services available to Gulf War veterans and their families.
- VA will ensure that its outreach to the Latino
populations provides information on Gulf War-related programs. A Spanish
language information pamphlet and federal veterans benefits guide are being
- Re-evaluation and enhancement of the Persian
Gulf Veterans Coordinating Board will include the addition of new members
to the existing Clinical, Research, and Compensation Working Groups. Further,
a Deployment Planning Working Group will be established to make recommendations
for interagency activities, and to monitor pre-deployment, deployment,
and post-deployment medical surveillance programs.
- The Food and Drug Administration is preparing
regulations that will solicit public and expert comment on any rule that
permits waiver of informed consent for use of investigational products
in military exigencies.
- Deployment health surveillance programs will
be carried out involving pre-deployment health screening and education,
deployment operational, environmental, and medical surveillance, and post-deployment
health surveillance and risk communication.
- DoD is developing enhanced orientation and training
procedures to inform service personnel about the health risks, benefits
and proper use of military medical countermeasures to chemical and biological
- Military medical record keeping will be given
particular priority by DoD officials at the highest levels. Computerized
medical records, meditags, and compatible information systems are under
- Continuing medical education programs for health
care providers in VA and DoD will be enhanced to ensure up-to-date patient
education and delivery of high quality health care.
- DoD is developing a Directive on Combat Stress
that will set forth policy, improve stress reduction and management programs,
and involve military leadership in stress management and unit cohesion
- DHHS will engage in a special effort designed
specifically to impact the stigmatization of stress-associated and other
mental health conditions.
- DoD has established the Office of the Special
Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, which is responsible for investigation
of reported Gulf War-related incidents that may have health consequences.
This effort involves case management and release of investigation narratives,
and outreach to veterans and Military Coalition organizations. Recent activities
include initiation of a Khamisiyah survey to collect information from veterans
who were there and to encourage them to participate in the health registries.
- Service members who may have been exposed at
Khamisiyah and other sites will be notified and any needed evaluation and
care provided; moreover, appropriate research will be conducted.
- Research activities are a key component of the
government's response. Related initiatives include:
- The Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating Board
has encouraged Public Advisory Committees be established for all large
- Federal research requests for proposals include:
- the possible long-term health effects of chemical
and other hazards (including subclinical exposure to chemical warfare nerve
- studies of combined exposures to pyridostigmine
bromide, pesticides and other agents;
- epidemiologic feasibility studies on Khamisiyah
veterans and other groups possibly exposed to low-level chemical agents;
- research on stress-related disorders.
- Development of a strategic plan for research
into the potential health consequences of exposure to chemical and other
hazards, including low-levels of chemical warfare agents; and
- Support for long-term mortality studies and cancer
The Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating Board has
engaged in a comprehensive, coordinated effort to respond to the health
concerns of Gulf War veterans. DoD, DHHS and VA are committed to finding
answers to Gulf War illnesses and look forward to working with the Presidential
Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses to achieve this goal.
Our veterans and their families deserve no less.
Last updated 7/14/97. TLJ