Wisconsin observes Gulf War Illness Recognition Day for the fourth year in a row.
The federal government last November recognized the legitimacy of Gulf War Illness. WDVA Executive Assistant Anthony Hardie says Wisconsin was ahead of the curve when state statutes designated a specific day to recognize those who suffer from post-deployment health issues. Hardie says, though, there still isn't a cure; they've simply been treating the symptoms.
“What is very positive and encouraging is that Congress is taking this very seriously in recent years, as well, and has been appropriating funds to the Congressionally directed medical research program.”
Hardie, a Gulf War veteran himself, says progress has been made, both in recognizing the symptoms and in medical research funding, but he says there is still a long way to go. Hardie says approximately 200,000 of nearly 700,000 veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War remain ill. That's about 1/4th of the veterans.
“And in Wisconsin we had 10,400 who participated in the Gulf War. So we're talking about at least 2,500 of those who would be estimated to be ill from Wisconsin.”
Since the federal study, Hardie has heard an outpouring of stories from veterans and their survivors, saying they feel vindicated.
Gulf War Illness Recognition Day is January 17th, the anniversary of the start of the Persian Gulf War 18 years ago. But, this year's ceremony at the State Veterans Museum is today (Friday) from 11:00 to 12 noon.
ON ANOTHER NOTE: There will be a recognition dinner on Saturday in Madison for Wisconsin veterans of the 1991 Gulf War and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans are encouraged to attend.