VA to reopen Gulf War vets’ files
The Veterans Affairs Department says it will take a second look at the disability claims of what could be thousands of Gulf War veterans suffering from illnesses they blame on their war service, the first step toward potentially compensating them nearly two decades after the war ended.
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said the decision is part of a “fresh, bold look” his department is taking to help veterans who have what’s commonly called “Gulf War illness” and have long felt the government did little to help them. The VA says it also plans to improve training for medical staff who work with Gulf War vets, to make sure they do not simply tell vets that their symptoms are imaginary — as has happened to many over the years.
“I’m hoping they’ll be enthused by the fact that this … challenges all the assumptions that have been there for 20 years,” Shinseki told The Associated Press in an interview.
The changes reflect a significant shift in how the VA may ultimately care for some 700,000 veterans who served in the Gulf War. They also could improve the way the department handles war-related illnesses suffered by future veterans, because Shinseki said he wants standards put in place that don’t leave veterans waiting decades for answers to what ails them.
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