For years, Gulf War veterans suffering from unexplained medical problems felt alone.
Now a wide range of government and independent groups offer information, assistance and counseling, either by phone or on the Internet.
Here are some telephone numbers to call for more information:
Veterans Affairs Hotline - (800) PGW VETS. Offers information on the nearest VA center where veterans and their family members can have a Gulf War Registry Exam and contact their local Persian Gulf coordinator. The registry exam does not offer a diagnosis or treatment, but vets often are referred to a follow-up exam by a VA primary care physician.
Spokane VA Center Gulf War Coordinator - 327-0252. Marv Boyd is the information source for veterans in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.
Washington State Veterans Affairs Department Hotline - (800) 562-2308. Ric Price, a Vietnam vet, offers help on finding treatment and filing disability claims.
Idaho State Veterans Services - (208) 799-3422. This is the agency’s Lewiston office, the contact is Ken Pitcher.
Defense Department Gulf War Veterans Hotline - (800) 796-9699. Persons still in the service can call this number to get an appointment for a Gulf War exam at the nearest military hospital.
Defense Department Incidents Hotline - (800) 472-6719. Veterans can call this number with information about suspected releases of chemical or biological weapons during Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
On the Web
The Internet also can be a source of information on Gulf War veterans and their problems. Some research papers are available on the World Wide Web, either by medical publications or colleges, and both government and private groups maintain Web sites. Here are some good starting points for Web searches:
Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illness - www.gwvi.gov Offers transcripts of testimony presented to the panel during last year’s hearings around the country and progress reports on their work. Add “/finalreport” to the address to tap into the panel’s December 1996 release.
VA Persian Gulf Veterans Illnesses page - www.va.gov/ health/environ/persgulf.htm Information on government reports and programs for the syndrome.
Defense Department’s Gulflink - www.dtic.dla.mil/gulflink/ The Pentagon’s site for official information on everything from medals to illnesses, it has better graphics than the VA, but much of its information is dated. Its most recent fact sheet is from November, and most are more than a year old.
Chronic Illness Research Foundations Persian Gulf War Syndrome Page - www.chronicillnet.org/pgws/ The private foundation, which recently hired a congressional investigator involved in the investigation of American companies who sold chemicals to Iraq, offers some of the best links to research reports and major news magazine articles on the illness.
Gulf War Veteran Resource Pages - www.gulfwar.org/ This private group offers a bulletin board and searches of its archives. Its “What’s New” page is fairly old, last updated in September, and its links often come with some editorial comment.
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