Hawaii News Meetings to focus on health of Gulf War veterans By Kevin Knodell firstname.lastname@example.org Jan. 28, 2023 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! A series of public meetings in February will focus on efforts to provide better care to veterans of Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. A series of public meetings in February will focus on efforts to provide better care to veterans of Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. The meetings on Gulf War veterans’ illness will be held by the Department of Veterans Affairs Research Advisory Committee. According to a Federal Register listing, “the committee will review VA program activities related to Gulf War veterans’ illnesses and updates on relevant scientific research published since the last committee meeting.” There will be two veteran engagement sessions on Feb. 7, followed by two days of committee meetings that will include a 30-minute public- comment period. After the Gulf War ended, veterans of the conflict fought with the Pentagon and the VA for recognition of illnesses connected to their service in Kuwait and Iraq. Many Gulf War veterans reported a series of ailments ranging from fatigue to cognitive problems, insomnia, muscle pain, rashes and diarrhea. Doctors unable to make sense of the symptoms began calling it Gulf War syndrome or Gulf War illness. Congress created the RAC in 1998 to research the issue and make recommendations to the VA. Fighting in the Persian Gulf subjected combatants in the conflict to a dizzying array of toxins, chemicals and other hazards that scientists now believe affected their health. The Gulf War began when Iraq’s Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait in 1990. Honing its tactics during the bloody Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, the Iraqi military used a variety of chemical and biological weapons on the battlefield, including nerve gas and anthrax. Meanwhile, U.S. forces and many of their coalition allies used depleted uranium munitions, which are now thought to increase risk of illnesses for those exposed to high quantities for prolonged periods. U.S. troops were given pyridostigmine bromide pills to protect them from nerve gas, while swarms of insects harassing military personnel also prompted widespread use of chemical pesticides. Both have since been tied to illnesses. Much of the fighting itself occurred in desert oil fields where burning oil and plumes of smoke spewed from the ground as fighters on both sides breathed in the toxic fumes for days and sometimes weeks at a time. — Veteran help Meetings at the Oahu Vet Center will be open to the public both in person and online. >> RAC Veteran Engagement Session 1: Feb. 7, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., va.gov/outreach-and-events/events/52483 >> RAC Veteran Engagement Session 2: Feb. 7, 1:30 p.m.- 4:30 p.m., va.gov/outreach-and-events/events/52484 >> RAC Full Committee Meeting 1: Feb. 8, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., va.gov/outreach-and-events/events/52500 >> RAC Full Committee Meeting 2: Feb. 9, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Correction: An earlier version of this article listed the wrong end time of the Feb. 9 event. Previous Story UH graduate assistants’ fight to unionize reaches high court Next Story Kokua Line: Are kupuna clubs active again?