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     The following bill is in our House right now. If not signed and ready for President Bush to sign by December, it will expire. This bill is very important to all veterans. Please call your Senators and Representatives and let them know that you want this bill passed!

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The Persian Gulf War Illness Compensation Act of 2001

     The outgoing V.A. Secretary, H. Gober, failed to change V.A. procedures based on the Institute of Medicine findings regarding saran exposure and related medical problems that I wrote to you about in the last annual report. In the meantime, there has been legislation filed that would make the V.A. Secretary's officially finding the connection with saran unnecessary, as far as V.A. compensation is concerned. This is the Persian Gulf War Illness Compensation Act of 2001 introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) in the Senate (S. 409), and by Congressmen Donald Manzullo (IL), Ronnie Shaws (MS), and Elton Gallegly (CA) in the (H.R. 612), in February, 2001.
     The bill finds that Gulf War veterans "were potentially exposed during that war to a wide range of biological and chemical agents" and other toxic exposures. This bill extends the deadline for filing, and widens the reach of the undiagnosed illness program, which until now has been extremely restrictive in its application. The bill would establish that "signs or symptoms that may be a manifestation of an undiagnosed illness include the following: (A) Fatigue; (B) Unexplained rashes or other dermatological signs or symptoms; (C) Headache; (D) Muscle pain; (E) Joint pain; (F) Neurological signs or symptoms; (G) Neuropsychological signs or symptoms; (H) Signs or symptoms involving the respiratory system (upper or lower); (I) Sleep disturbances; (J) Gastrointestinal signs or symptoms; (K) Cardiovascular signs or symptoms; (L) Abnormal weight loss; or (M) Menstrual disorders." The bill basically incorporates the signs and symptoms which medical research has identified as constituting the chronic multi-symptom nature of Gulf War Illness.
     H.R. 612, with some small modifications, was incorporated into a larger bill, H.R. 2540. It became Section 202 & 203 of that bill. H.R. 2540 then passed the House 422-0 on July 31, 2001. S. 409 has come out of Committee almost entirely unchanged, and will be coming to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Assuming that it will pass there, it will then go through a House/Senate Conference Committee to reconcile any differences and then go to the President for signature. We are cautiously optimistic that this legislation will become law in this Congress. This will greatly help Gulf War veterans who have been ill and disable since the war, and who have gone without assistance from the Veterans Administration for the last decade.

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