Studies: Gulf War Vets More Likely To Report Illnesses

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ATLANTA: Two new studies report that Gulf War veterans are more likely to have serious health complaints than troops who did not serve in the Middle East. Veterans contend their service in the war caused the sicknesses, ranging from chronic diarrhea and joint pain to skin rashes and memory loss. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted one study and the Navy another. Matt Puglisi, an American Legion official, said the reports are instrumental because they provide scientific data, whereas all previous claims were purely anecdotal. The CDC studied about 4,000 veterans, most from the Pennsylvania National Guard. The Navy studied 1,500 sailors and will release its study along with the CDC's next year. Despite the findings, neither investigation sheds light on the cause of the illnesses, which has been under scrutiny since veterans began returning home from the Gulf region. Earlier this month, a government study of one million Gulf War soldiers concluded veterans are not much more likely to die or be hospitalized than soldiers who did not fight in the region. The large number of variables that could have been encountered on the battlefield may make it hard for experts to single out a cause.