The symptoms include severe fatigue, stomach problems and body aches just to name a few. One out of three soldiers who fought in Operation Desert Storm are affected. Now new research is aimed at bringing some relief.
Jimmy Arocho is a Gulf War veteran.
“I was seven months in the desert,” said Arocho, Sergeant First Class (retired) in the United States Army.
Shortly after coming home, his health took a turn for the worse.
Arocho continued, “Full body pain, muscle and joint pain.”
Nancy Klimas, MD, Director of the Gulf War Illness Program at Miami VA Hospital and Director of the Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine at Nova Southeastern University said ,“In 1990 and 91, we sent 800,000 U.S. Troops to the Middle East to fight in the first Gulf War.”
Dr. Klimas says those soldiers were exposed to multiple chemical toxins including organophosphate in their uniforms.
Dr. Klimas said, “Out of 800,000 troops some 300,000 veterans are now ill 27 years later, so one in three came back ill and stayed that way.”
Dr. Klimas and her team at Nova Southeastern University and the Miami VA went to work to find a treatment for Gulf War illness and the debilitating symptoms. They put study participants on bikes and measured their body’s responses and found their systems were off balance.
“In this particular study we’re using a biologic intervention,” Dr. Klimas told Ivanhoe.
She says the goal is a healthy homeostasis, bringing the immune, endocrine and autonomic nervous systems back in balance. The study has moved to phase one in humans. Jimmy hopes this research will finally lead to some relief for his fellow soldiers.
“I really want to see an effective treatment across all of what is causing the gulf war illness,” Arocho said.
Despite his own pain, Arocho travelled to Puerto Rico to help hurricane victims. Once a soldier always a civil servant.
Dr. Klimas believes a treatment for Gulf War illness will be available in about five years, most likely in the form of an injection. In addition to Nova, four other sites received federal funding for clinical trials on Gulf War illness including Boston University, the Bronx VA, the Palo Alto VA and the New Jersey VA. For more information visit http://www.nova.edu/nim/index.html
Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Field Producer; Judy Reich, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.