Dr. Rostker addresses Veterans of Foreign Wars and Reserve Officers Association
WASHINGTON, DC, March 1, 1997 (GulfLINK) - Dr. Bernard Rostker, Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States on February 10th and to the Reserve Officers Association on February 18th at their mid-winter conferences.
Dr. Rostker opened both the sessions by stating, "My first priority is the health and welfare of our Gulf War veterans." Dr. Rostker, who serves as the DoD coordinator for all issues relating to Gulf War Illness, outlined the mission of his office.
"I see this mission in three parts," stated Dr. Rostker. "First, to ensure that DoD does its part to ensure that all who served in the Gulf receive appropriate medical care; second, to conduct a thorough investigation into the events of the Gulf War in an attempt to determine why so many veterans are ill; and third, to apply lessons learned from our Gulf experience to future deployments."
Dr. Rostker told the VFW and ROA members that a key factor in the success of his office will be the extent to which he strengthens partnerships with veterans service organizations and military service organizations. He said, "We will continue to work hard, be open and tell the truth. Our efforts here must have a long term effect. We must ensure that DoD puts in place all required military doctrine, personnel and medical policies, procedures and equipment to prevent future occurrences of the problems we are seeing today, and we must work cooperatively with the VA to coordinate all issues critical to these programs.
Dr. Rostker opened the floor for questions. Topics of interest to attendees were:
- "The oil fires produced large quantities of airborne ash. Is ash being investigated? Oil fire and air pollution?"
- Multiple U.S. and international agencies performed extensive air monitoring during the oil fires and did not find levels of pollutants likely to cause long-term health effects. The data collected indicated that, despite the dramatic appearance of the oil plumes, pollutant levels were surprisingly low. Based on research on human and animal health effects of exposure to air pollutants and on currently available exposure data, the Presidential Advisory Committee concluded it is unlikely that exposure to oil fires is responsible for symptoms reported by some Gulf War veterans
- "Does a civilian contractor who was employed by the U.S. government during the war, in theater, have access privileges to either VA or military health care facilities?
- Civilians who served in the Gulf only have access to the DoD Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program (CCEP). The CCEP will provide evaluation information at the request of the individualís civilian health care provider.
- We also encourage civilian employees to contact the DoD Incident Reporting Hotline (1-800-472-6719) to offer information they believe is relevant to our investigations.
- Anyone who believes he or she might be eligible should contact either the DoD or VA. The DoD established the Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program to provide in-depth evaluations of Gulf War veterans who are currently in one of the active or Reserve components or are retired. DoD personnel who want medical examinations are encouraged to call 1-800-796-9699 and schedule an appointment. A similar Department of Veterans Affairs program for veterans can be reached at 1-800-749-8387.
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