Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating Board

Department of Defense (703) 695-0192
Department of Veterans Affairs (202) 273-5700
Department of Health and Human Services (202) 690-6343



The Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating Board, composed of the secretaries of the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs, is announcing a comprehensive action plan that will implement recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses. The Presidential Advisory Committee is composed of outside experts evaluating federal activities and veterans' needs.

The Coordinating Board, established by President Clinton in January 1994 to respond to the health problems of Persian Gulf veterans, maintains working groups that coordinate the federal response to Gulf War veterans' needs in clinical care, compensation, research and other program areas. The Coordinating Board's action plan is in response to the findings and recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Committee, which were presented to President Clinton on Dec. 31, 1996.

The interagency action plan, which was delivered to President Clinton March 7, 1997, calls for an ongoing commitment to revisit key issues and reshape the government's response as more is learned from research about the complex illnesses of Gulf War veterans. More than 90 federally supported scientific studies already have been initiated, and this year the Department of Defense (DoD) alone will fund $27 million in new Persian Gulf-related research, including new studies involving nerve agents.

Issues raised by the Presidential Advisory Committee include veterans' outreach, medical and clinical programs, research, interagency coordination and further examination of possible risk factors, particularly related to chemical and biological weapons. As part of the departments' response, the Coordinating Board describes DoD's plan to collect and publicly release all available unclassified and declassified Persian Gulf War information. Furthermore, the Coordinating Board is developing a comprehensive plan for communicating what is known about risks from possible Gulf environmental factors, including chemical weapons and other issues of concern to veterans. In addition, research proposals are being solicited to examine potential risk factors, including the nerve agent pretreatment drug pyridostigmine bromide, pesticides and other agents.

A Presidential Review Directive (PRD) process has been initiated to ensure that any future troop deployments incorporate lessons learned in the Gulf theater, particularly health preparedness for and readjustment of veterans and families after future deployments. The National Science and Technology Council has been tasked to develop an interagency plan to address these issues. The Coordinating Board will establish a Deployment Planning Working Group to recommend action on pre-deployment, deployment and post-deployment medical surveillance programs. Further, the Defense Department will enhance orientation and training procedures to inform service personnel about health risks, benefits and proper use of medical countermeasures while developing computerized medical records, "meditags" (computer-readable "dogtags" that include medical information), and compatible information systems.

In addition to use of the Coordinating Board's forthcoming risk communication plan, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will employ the transition assistance briefings that are conducted for servicemembers about to leave the military to emphasize services available to Gulf War veterans and their families. VA also will increase outreach to Latino populations with a Spanish language information pamphlet and benefit guide. The Coordinating Board's action plan also describes VA and DoD plans to provide the latest scientific information to their health-care providers through their continuing medical education programs.

Note: The full text of the Coordinating Board's response is available from the departmental contacts listed on Page 1. (The Presidential Advisory Committee's report is available via the Internet at April 3, 1997