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Case Narrative Methodology

Q. What is a case narrative?

A. A case narrative is a report of what we know today about specific events that took place during the Gulf War of 1990 and 1991. A case narrative focuses on a particular incident and can include personnel interviews, reviews of official documents from various commands and agencies, collection of scientific data, and original research. From a broader perspective, a case narrative is part of our overall effort to inform the public about the progress being made to solve the many mysteries of 1990-1991 Gulf War illnesses.

Q. What has been delaying the case narratives?

A. Careful research takes time, and by many standards, our organization is still relatively new. Once we brought on enough people to properly work the issues, we had to begin the involved process of substantiating the incidents, documenting the medical reports related to the incidents, interviewing appropriate people, obtaining information available to external organizations, assessing the data, then writing and coordinating these narratives.

Q. How does these case narrative announcements effect previously announced initiatives and actions?

A. These announcements are another step in the investigative process. The cases narratives are not final reports. These narratives are intended to generate additional dialogue with 1990-1991 Gulf War veterans who may have more information that will help us accurately understand what occurred with respect to each case under investigation. We encourage veterans with additional information to call the Gulf War Incident Hotline at 1-800-472-6719 or DSN 878-3261.

Q. Why do you release these reports in this manner?

A. As part of DoD's efforts to keep veterans informed about what we know about key events, issues, and incidents, the department is publishing a series of narratives and issue papers.

Q. What is the significance of these case narratives?

A. The narratives are significant in that they present, for the first time, all the information we have on these specific events as of the date of publication.

Q. If these are interim reports, when will you have final reports?

A. If new information becomes available, the narratives will be updated and reissued. All our narratives are dynamic in nature and will be updated as more information comes to light.

Q. What methodology do you use in developing the narratives?

A. To investigate these incidents and to determine if chemical weapons were used, the DoD developed a methodology for investigation and validation based on work done by the United Nations and the international community where the criteria include:

  1. A detailed written record of the conditions at the site.
  2. Physical evidence from the site such as weapons fragments, soil, water, vegetation or human/animal tissue samples.
  3. A record of the chain of custody during the transportation of the evidence.
  4. Testimony of eyewitnesses.
  5. Multiple analyses.
  6. Review of the evidence by experts

Our method is designed to provide a thorough, investigative process to define the circumstances of each incident and determine what happened. Alarms alone are not considered to be certain evidence of chemical agent presence, nor is a single individual's observation sufficient to validate a chemical agent presence, without corroboration. By following our methodology, gathering evidence, interviewing eyewitnesses and key personnel, and analyzing the results, the investigator assesses the validity of the presence of chemical warfare agents on the battlefield. Because information from various sources may be contradictory, we have developed the following assessment scale, ranging from "Definitely" to "Definitely Not." This assessment is tentative, based on facts available as of the date of the report publication; each case is reassessed over based on new information and feedback.

"Definitely Not" -- "Unlikely" -- "Indeterminate" -- "Likely" -- "Definitely"

The standard for making the assessment is based on the following: do the available facts lead a reasonable person to conclude that chemical warfare agents were or were not present? When insufficient information is available, the assessment is "Indeterminate" until more evidence can be found.

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