GulfLINK Continues to Improve

Washington, January 23, 1998 (GulfLINK)- The Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses continues to improve its Internet website, GulfLINK. Recently a number of changes were instituted to make the website more useful and user-friendly.

"We are listening to what the veterans are telling us and have made changes based on the suggestions from them," said web manager Tony DeNicola. "Thanks to your suggestions, and the application of new technologies, we've simplified the navigation in GulfLINK. By placing your cursor over a category you'll now see the category's description in the status bar. We've also added a number of other improvements that we believe our users will find helpful."

Other new additions to GulfLINK include:

* A new Topic Index/FAQ's - this listing provides direct access to hot topics and the frequently asked questions associated with them. Some examples of the topics are: Biological Warfare and Detection Capabilities, CCEP/Hotline: Registration and Usage and Depleted Uranium.

* A new Khamisiyah page - this new page summarizes all the available information regarding the demolition of the Iraqi ammunition supply bunker by U.S. forces March 10-14, 1991, and the resulting release of low levels of chemical nerve agents into the atmosphere. Of interest to many veterans are the maps showing where the plume was on days one through four, and the consolidated list of units that were possibly exposed to the plume.

* A link providing easy access to different search engines has also been added to all pages on GulfLINK. Currently, there are three different search engines. The default search engine is Thunderstone's Texis. This search engine is suitable for basic and advanced searching, using keywords, topics, etc. Fulcrum Surfboard and Netscape Catalog provide different features that users may be more comfortable with.

* A new mailing list capability should prove to be a popular improvement to many GulfLINK users. Members of the list are notified by e-mail each time GulfLINK is updated.

* And finally, a new page featuring the latest updates has been added. This page contains a chronological listing of the latest updates on GulfLINK. These updates include: case narratives, information papers, media releases, declassified documents, DOD press briefings and other related information.

GulfLINK is the focal point for the most current information available relating to Gulf War Illnesses. It currently receives an average of more than 60,000 "hits" per week. During times of increased media interest or coverage of Gulf War related topics the number of hits significantly increases.

Many other websites (both official government, media and organizational websites) are hyperlinked to GulfLINK. This contributes to its success. Some of the websites with links to GulfLINK are: DefenseLINK (including DoD and all the Services), The Department of Veterans Affairs homepage , Walter Reed Army Medical Center , the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence and a large number of Gulf War Veterans Groups.

A popular feature of the GulfLINK homepage has been the interactive e-mail capability . Gulf War veterans, family members, students, and others interested in Gulf War illnesses, have written in with questions, requests for assistance, information, or sometimes, just to communicate their views. Since the interactive e-mail started in April 1997, nearly 3,000 e-mails have been received by the special assistant's office.

"We welcome any suggestions you may have on how to improve our Internet website," said DeNicola. "Even though GulfLINK recently won the Government Computer News Agency Award for excellence in the application of information technology, we're not about to rest. We believe the key to maintaining a successful website is to continually refresh and enhance with new information, new technology and new Internet tools."