Dr. Rostker testifies at Presidential Advisory Committee hearing

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH- April 18, 1997 (Gulflink)- Dr. Bernard Rostker, Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Gulf War Illnessess, was invited to testify at the open hearing of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses in Salt Lake City. Dr. Bernard Rostker, led his testimony by stating: "As special assistant for Gulf War illnesses, my first priority is the health and welfare of our Gulf veterans." As coordinator for all issues relating to the Gulf War, Rostker described the mission of his organization. He said, "We must learn everything possible about the potential causes of illnesses, including events before, during and after the war, and promote improved communications with Gulf veterans on the relevant health care issues. This endeavor is critical because we have a moral duty to our veterans and to those who serve now. Therefore, we must understand what is making our people sick so that we can make the changes necessary to protect our people in the future."

Dr. Rostker also told the committee that he has expanded into two new areas to initiate two-way communications between DoD, VA and the veterans as recommended by the Presidential Advisory Committee. This proactive risk community strategy includes adding an interactive electronic mail capability to GulfLINK, and the initiation of an on going series of meetings with veterans service organizations and military service organizations.

Joining Dr. Rostker at the committee hearing was Director of Investigations and Analysis, Anne Rathmell Davis, and Deputy Director, Dee Dodson Morris.

Anne Rathmell Davis discussed the investigative process and described the composition and responsibilities of the five analytical teams: Special Projects/Preliminary Analysis, Chemical Biological Warfare Agents, Environmental/Occupational Exposures, Medical Planning Issues and the Veterans Data Management Team. IAD conducts investigations through active data collection from original sources, where possible, and keeping the public informed on what is learned. Anne Davis said, "This isn't just a job for me, taking care of our own has been deeply ingrained in me, both by the Marine Corps and by my family. You have my personnel commitment that my team will fully investigate what happened in the Gulf War so that the Department of Defense can do everything possible to take care of those who served in the Gulf and who will serve our country in the future."

Ms. Morris, outlined the scope of her responsibilities, as deputy director and as manager of the Khamisiyah case. The team working on Khamisiyah continues to search for people who assisted in the destruction of the "pit", as they collect and analyze data from the incident reports compiled by Veterans Data Management Team, (VDM), the result of the survey sent to 20,000 veterans believed to be within 50km of Khamisiyah when it was destroyed.

Also in attendance on the panel was Robert Walpole, Special Assistant to the acting Director of the CIA. Walpole, described the focus of the new CIA task force on Gulf War illnesses. George Lotz, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight discussed their role in looking at what intelligence was generated and how it was disseminated. Lt. General Jarad Bates, U.S. Army Inspector General, testified about what his office is doing to look at the events surrounding the Khamisiyah demolitions.