Educational Guide Specializing in “Gulf War Illness”

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NGWRC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and your donations are tax deductible. Our paperwork is on file with the state of Kansas and if you need a copy you can get it from the Secretary of States' office. The NGWRC reserves the right to refuse donations from any groups or persons whos' views does not support ours.


Information and support for those involved in and transformed by today's wars.


Updated November 2017 v3.0

Purpose of this Guide


  When people are injured on-the-job in civilian work, their employers may pay for related medical treatment and provide compensation.  If you are a veteran with injuries or disabilities incurred in the line of duty, you have earned the right to medical treatment and compensation for conditions connected to your service.  The VA provides this care and compensation after you are discharged.


  Common war injuries like Gulf War Illness (GWI)/Chronic Multi-symptom Illness (CMI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are difficult to diagnose.  GWI was not recognized by the scientific and medical communities for several years after the events which first caused it. 


  If you are an ill or injured veteran, this is your Guide to understanding GWI [including Undiagnosed Illness (UDX) and medically unexplained CMI's], Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and PTSD.  This guide focuses on what you need to know in order to file a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for disability compensation benefits you have earned as a result of your injury during your service.


  Information on technical research was removed in order to focus on what you need to file a claim or to get help and support.  The research is found on the VA research site and on the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Center for Disease control (CDC) sites.  If you ever use any research in your claim, it cannot be from a pilot study.  Unfortunately, most of the CDMRP studies are pilot studies and cannot be used; the same is true for non-human studies.


 This updated guide is the result of months of reviewing changes in regulations and science regarding Gulf War Illness [1] and other conditions affecting veterans who served our country from 1990 to the present day, and turning that information into a reference that veterans and their advocates can use.  It is a core resource in our work to improve claims, medical treatment, and quality of life for these injured veterans.


  The NGWRC thanks the following individuals and groups for their contributions to this guide:


COL (Ret) George Webb helped review and proofread this guide, among his many contributions to NGWRC.


William Ankenbauer, Jr., a retired service officer and adviser to the NGWRC, has provided invaluable insight and advice on how a veteran should develop his or her claim.   He was one of the best service officers in Kansas that I trained with.


 Finally, we thank the National Veteran Legal Service Program and all of the past leaders of the NGWRC who worked previous editions of the Guide and performed some of the advocacy work that led to veterans being able to receive care and benefits today that they could not get a few years ago.


Thank you one and all, 

James A. Bunker.





  Veterans and their families run the National Gulf War Resource Center (NGWRC).  We help veterans affected by the 'invisible' injuries most common in the current conflict period, from 1990 to the present day.  These injuries include Gulf War Illness (GWI)[2], Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


  We are among the most successful Veterans' Organizations in the United States advocating for veterans affected by GWI.  We formed shortly after the Persian Gulf War of 1991.  Our work has been critical in establishing the rights, treatments, and benefits to which these veterans now have access.  Yet our work is far from done.  GWI is still poorly understood and incurable.  While no longer in complete denial, the VA and the Department of Defense (DOD) often ignore recommendations from the scientific community that may lead to better treatment, and claims for VA benefits related to GWI are still difficult for veterans to file for, much less be granted, unless all of the proper evidence is in your claim. 


  The term 'Gulf War Veteran' refers to any veteran who served in Southwest Asia during Operations Desert Shield/Storm, Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn and any other operations from August 1990 until the present day.  We work with veterans who have served since 1990 until today, no matter the Area of Operation.


 NGWRC Core Values


1. Advocate tirelessly for veterans from Southwest Asia (SWA[3]) and their issues - We will promote media awareness and Congressional investigations to ensure that Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Gulf War review efforts are comprehensive, correct, and supportive of the SWA veteran.


2. Provide educational material and assistance to SWA Veterans, their VSOs, and families - We are committed to helping veterans improve their chances of receiving overdue compensation for their service-connected illnesses.  A key component of that commitment is producing and updating an Educational Guide that covers important topics such as medical research and legislative developments, organizations that support veterans of SWA, lessons learned, and assistance available from federal agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs.


3. Educate VA staff, legislators, and members of medical facilities on the complexities of Gulf War Illnesses - We serve the veteran by informing legislators of provisions needed to protect, treat, and compensate SWA Veterans, and we educate medical providers on the wide variety of symptoms and illnesses faced by SWA veterans.


4. Create a diverse, dynamic organizational membership dedicated to vital veteran issues - Gulf War Illness issues affect veteran, scientific, legal, family, and other constituents, as well as current and future service members.  To ensure adequate involvement and to prevent repetition of past mistakes, NGWRC solicits from all interested communities and constantly updates its website with relevant and useful information.


5. Review and analyze all relevant government and industry actions, policies, research efforts, and writings concerning Gulf War Era and future veterans' issues - We are committed to being a leader in understanding the complexities of Gulf War Illnesses by evaluating new concepts in treatment through collaborations with and in our organizational presence at the VA Research Advisory Committee meetings.  We will continue to create and implement progressive policies that maximize results for the veterans, increase public understanding, help create clear understanding of illness issues, and ensure the protection of future veterans.


6. Further comradeship among those who are or have been members of the Armed Forces of the United States.

The NGWRC has done much to bring Gulf War Veterans issues before Congress and the media, exposing Pentagon and VA policies that have severely impacted veterans and their families.  Our most valuable efforts have resulted in legislation that required research and service-connected disabilities for certain conditions associated with Gulf War service.  NGWRC does this with the grants and donations we receive from individuals and foundations.

Updated November, 2017 V3.0

Distribution and Disclaimer

Gulf War Illness (GWI) is a generic term for a variety of medical problems which will be discussed in detail.  This guide is not a review of the protocols for medical treatment of GWI; that goal is all too elusive.  The primary purpose of this guide is to assist the veteran -- who believes he or she is afflicted with GWI -- with procedures for filing a claim for disability with the Department of Veterans Affairs and enhancing the probability of success in that endeavor.

  Gulf War Illness is not something you can claim under 38 USC 1117.  GWI is only a term to describe the symptoms veterans have from their service in the Gulf War.  The VA and DOD are working on a case definition for it to be diagnosed as medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness, but this has not happened yet.  It should be done soon.

  The contents of this guide are for informational purposes only.  Every effort is made to achieve accuracy, but neither the Veteran Information Network, the National Gulf War Resource Center, Inc. nor its principals assume responsibility for the accuracy or veracity of the information contained herein. 

  This guide is distributed freely to veterans, Veteran Service Organizations, accredited VA Agents, lawyers, and others interested in helping those who are ill, injured, or disabled due to the Gulf War.  Any other use requires the written authorization of the National Gulf War Resource Center (NGWRC) or sources used in this guide.

ALL veterans need to work closely with Department of Veterans Affairs accredited representatives when filing their claims and any follow-up appeals.  The regulation is always changing, and your VSO should be taking classes to be current.  Do not let your claim get denied due to some bad advice given by the “untrained advocates” who are giving out their “personal opinion” and not the current regulation/laws on the internet.  It is very hard to fix errors in the claim once the decision is made, so use this guide with your trained VSO Rep, agent, or lawyer.  If you are planning to start a new claim or planning to reopen a claim, you need to go to the section in “Intent to File” and get this done before reading anything else in this guide.

Thank you one and all.