Members of Congress and Veterans’ advocates requested that the Department of Veterans Affairs make brain cancer, lung cancer and migraines presumptive conditions for Gulf War veterans.
Officials of Veterans Affairs have rejected the request and claim that they cannot prove the high rate of these illnesses among Gulf War Veterans are related to military service.
VA Officials said the number of brain cancer deaths for vets exposed to sarin gas was too low to be conclusive. However, data shows that the number of brain cancer deaths for soldiers exposed to sarin gas was double the rate of soldiers not exposed.
Although the rate of lung cancer deaths was 15% higher than those who did not serve in the Gulf War, officials claim the information to be “inconclusive.” Researchers made this claim because they do not know how many of the service members smoke.
When veterans are diagnosed with presumptive conditions, the VA is required to assume that it is military-connected. Veterans with military-connected medical issues are entitled to medical or disability benefits associated with the diagnosis.
Soldiers exposed to smoke after Saddam Hussein set his oil wells on fire and soldiers exposed to sarin gas after the U.S. bombed munitions plant in Khamisayah, Iraq saw an increased risk of brain cancer.
According to the Defense Department, as many as 100,000 troops may have been exposed to sarin. A recent study shows more may have been affected.
A second study revealed that Gulf War vets saw a “significant relative excess” of lung cancer. A third study showed that veterans with chronic fatigue syndrome or Gulf War Illness were likely to also suffer migraines.
The VA acting undersecretary for health turned down the request under the premise that the Institute of Medicine found insufficient evidence for a link between Gulf War service and the diseases.
However, the president of the National Gulf War Resource Center told USA Today that the undersecretary’s response flies in the face of the VA’s own research.