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Hon. David P. Roe, Ranking Republican Member, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Mr. Chairman, thank you for yielding me time. 

It is fitting as we approach the twentieth anniversary of the start of Operation Desert Storm and the beginning of the Gulf War that we proceed with this final hearing in our three-part series on Gulf War Illness.  On this day, it is important for us to look to the future of care for the veterans who fought and served in this conflict and now suffer from various illnesses from unknown causes.  I believe it will be interesting to listen to the views of each of the panels on what they perceive is the cultural perception of Gulf War illness, as well as both the medical and benefits side of the equation on the care for these veterans.

On April 9, 2010, the Institute of Medicine issued its most recent report on Gulf War and Health, which made additional recommendations on how we can best support the veterans from this conflict.  I look forward to hearing from Dr. Hauser who Chaired the Committee on Gulf War and Health:  Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War, on how VA can use the information in this report to improve care to these veterans, and also to hear what progress VA has made since we last met in July.  I am curious to hear VA’s response to the Research Advisory Committee’s September 2009 report, and what changes are coming about as a result of our hearings, as well as the Advisory Committee’s report.

We must never forget the reason we are having these hearings.  It is to help our nation’s veterans.  In the past year, we have explored the research behind presumptions, the medical indicators leading to diagnosis or lack thereof, and we learned most importantly that the documentation of undiagnosed illnesses is a large contributor leading to a presumption of Gulf War Illness.  I believe we can use the information we have compiled through these hearings to really come to a better understanding of Gulf War illness, and through that knowledge, better serve these veterans who have sacrificed so much for their country.

The information gleaned from the upcoming report from the Secretary’s Gulf War Veterans Illnesses Task Force, as well as the reports issued by the Research Advisory Counsel and the Institute of Medicine will help us serve those veterans from the Gulf War.  It is my hope that we will also take the lessons learned through these hearings as well as the reports, and apply them to the current OIF/OEF veterans, and future veterans down the road to better serve their needs.

I am pleased that VA Chief of Staff John Gingrich has brought with him representatives from both the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration, who can respond to the type of care and benefits being provided to our Gulf War veterans, and I look forward to hearing the testimony of all the witnesses.

Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for pursuing this issue, and I yield back my time.