TO: Secretary William S. Cohen, Department of Defense
Secretary Donna E. Shalala, Department of Health and Human Services
Acting Secretary Hershel W. Gober, Department of Veterans Affairs

RE: Special Report

DA: October 31, 1997

On behalf of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, I am pleased to transmit our Special Report. As directed by the President, this report focuses on our evaluation of the government's implementation of our previous recommendations, and on our oversight of the government's ongoing investigations related to chemical and biological warfare agent incidents during the Gulf War.

This Special Report both complements and extends the earlier analyses and recommendations of the Committee's Interim Report (February 1996), Final Report (December 1996), and supplemental letter report (April 1997). Over the past two years, the Committee conducted a comprehensive, systematic, and thorough examination of all facets of Gulf War veterans' illnesses based on the President's charge to independently pursue all avenues of inquiry. In particular, the Committee was struck by the parallels between the experiences with health concerns of veterans from previous conflicts and veterans of the Gulf War; we emphasize the importance of applying these experiences to future deployments.

In fulfilling our mandate, the Committee relied on the contributions of hundreds of individuals in this country who have dedicated themselves to addressing the health concerns of Gulf War veterans. We strongly encourage the government to continue to reach out to and involve these individuals in future deliberations. At the same time, concern about the health consequences of Gulf War service is receiving heightened interest abroad. Thus, we encourage the government to also avail itself of growing expertise in the international scientific community. The complexities of Gulf War veterans' illnesses demand the fullest coordination possible.

While scientific research progresses, the Committee believes it critical that the government reinforce to veterans and the public its commitment to caring for Gulf War veterans. With our recommendation for a statutory program for Gulf War veterans' illnesses, the Committee hopes it has set in motion a process-both in and outside government-to sustain current interest in resolving the uncertainties surrounding this difficult issue. This government must demonstrate through constructive public policy that it will do all it can for the men and women who served in the Gulf War.

Joyce C. Lashof, M.D.
Committee Chair