Mission Statement of Operation Forgotten Warrior
Forgotten Warrior II mission is to get the Department of Veteran Affairs to better train the health care provider and to remember that the veterans of Operation Desert Storm have a number of presumptive illness attributed to our service.
Forgotten Warrior II members will fight for all of us to be kept informed by the 'Gulf War Review' once again and work for new signs in the VAMC's telling veterans of their presumptive illnesses.
Forgotten Warrior II members will help other veterans and teach them how to send in letters to the OIG on claims that should not have been denied due to poorly trained rater and or outright errors. We have sent in to many letters and the time is now to get the IG office to look into the continuing problem.
If you only look for the faults in someone (or something or program) you will never see the good that there is or can be.
You should never throw stones for they can bounce back and hurt you too.
We have a lot of work for the VA to get done before we can get our health and life back on track.
The VA needs to understand it is our life we are talking about, we are in pain.
Only working as a team are able to solve the problem.
Here are our objectives – suggestions for how the VA can better remember and serve the veterans of Desert Storm and the rest of our period of service – the first 11 years of the wartime service era which continues to the present day.
1. Medical research professionals and the Department of Veteran Affairs to understand that there is but one Gulf War under US law. This term applies to both a specific geographical region and time period, and that time period extends all the way to the present. Every veteran that served in thewar zone from 2 August 1990 until today is a “gulf war veteran”. Posters should not ask for Gulf War/OIF veterans into a study. This is telling a Desert Storm veteran that study is only for OIF veterans. If the VA wishes to focus on the two largest operations, it may ask for Desert Storm/Operation Iraqi Freedom (DS/OIF) veterans. If it wishes to be fully inclusive of all operations, it can ask for “Veterans who served in Iraq, Kuwait, or the Persian Gulf between 1990 and the present.” or it could add this in smaller print for clarification of “DS/OIF”.
2. Forgotten Warrior II will work at getting the VAMC to inform Desert Storm and other Gulf War veterans of the presumptive illnesses related to their service.
a. Use the plasma (TV) bulletin boards as an outlet for information on presumptive illnesses (chronic multisymptom illness), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Fibromyalgia (FM) and Functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID). See example.
b. Have all VAMC and CBOC locations display information on Gulf War Illness (GWI) in their waiting areas and provide information on the presumptive conditions related to it, using VA brochures which are already in publication.
c. Use the plasma (TV) bulletin boards as an outlet for information about the Gulf War Illness registry exam and the Depleted Uranium exam, including where the veteran may register for either of these examinations.
d. Send out the “Gulf War Review” to veterans again. It should tell veterans of changes in the regulation. It can clarify common areas of misunderstanding, such as just what is, and is not, a functional gastrointestinal disorders. It can bring attention to new treatments available for the illnesses, new research results, and opportunities to participate in new research.
3. Have all VAMC and CBOC locations display information on GWI in their waiting area which provides information on the WRIISC.
4. Improve healthcare for Desert Storm veterans by giving information to the health care providers on the WRIISC from time to time. The WRIISC is a tool for the providers.
5. Improve the level of understanding of all of VBA C&P exams and other exam providers about Gulf War Illness. This includes explaining that, no matter what new names the medical community comes up with for the same thing, it will always be “Gulf War Illness” to the veterans who actually experience it. One of the greatest barriers to care for veterans with Gulf War Illness right now, is that their examiners and care givers don't understand it.
6. The VA and the RAC need to work together. The RAC is an important adviser to the VA and part of the VA team committed to helping veterans find a way to live healthy, fulfilling lives. The RAC should not see itself as an adversary of the rest of the VA. The VA is to care for the veterans and the RAC is to help find the best research within and outside of the VA to will improve treatment for Gulf War Illness and provide a better quality of life to veterans.
Additional needs of Operation Forgotten Warrior
VA needs to train its health care providers doctors of the fact that GWI is a physiological illness, caused by specific environmental exposures and conditions; it is not a mental illness. VA doctors and nurse practitioners need to understand the presumptive illnesses and work to help veterans diagnose them, not just send the veteran off to the Psych department (which cannot treat with this physical illness). A Desert Storm veteran is not the same as an OIF veterans.
The VA today has solid information about GWI and how to treat it However, many or most of its health care providers at VAMC's and CBOC's do not understand GWI. They need training about what GWI, how to treat it, and its different rate of incidence and effects on DS and OIF veterans.
At VAMC's, which have enough staff, the VA could place DS veterans with one or two teams of healthcare providers who are more thoroughly and intensively trained on GWI and how to treat it. This would improve healthcare for veterans and provide in-house resource people for other providers at the same VAMC and its affiliated CBOC's.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
First, VA doctors need the tools and training to properly diagnose GERD by testing the muscle involved in the disease. An exact diagnosis allows for better treatment and healthier veterans.
Second, the VA needs to educate its adjudicators in its VARO's that GERD may be one of conditions missed diagnosed and it may be a “Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder”, These facts should be considered by adjudicators when they are reviewing a claim for service-connection of GERD. The diagnosis of GERD is not a sound basis for ruling against a claim for service connection.
The clinical picture is further complicated because symptoms in GERD overlap with
those present in functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs), such as functional
dyspepsia (FD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Currently, there is a need to
determine if symptoms can be accurately and appropriately assigned to GERD or
FGIDs and whether this is of any clinical value in determining assessment and
management strategies. (E.M.M. Quigley 2006).