You are on page 1of 2

The Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) (DoD-CDMRP

GWIRP Vision: “Improve the health and lives of veterans who have Gulf War Illness.”1
GWIRP Mission: Fund innovative Gulf War Illness research to identify effective treatments,
improve definition and diagnosis, and better understand pathobiology and symptoms.1

The Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP), one of the many military-related, stand-alone
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) within the U.S. Department of
Defense (DoD) health program, is a unique treatment development medical research program
initiated by Congress in FY06 to support medical research of exceptional scientific merit related
to the deployment health effects of the 1991 Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm).1
GWIRP is unique:
• Intramural vs. Extramural: VA only funds VA researchers (an “intramural” program); CDMRP
is not similarly constrained (an “extramural” program) and aims to find and fund the best
research proposals by government, academic, or even industry researchers.
• Treatment-Focused: The GWIRP is the only federal program ever to exist that is solely
focused on funding research to develop treatments for Gulf War Illness (GWI), including
funding the necessary preclinical work to understand pathobiology and etiology as they
pertain to treatment development – a bench-to-bedside model for other environmental
injuries and Toxic Wounds.
• Peer-Reviewed: The best medical research is found and funded via a strategically directed,
competitively selected, two-tier peer review process1
• Emphasizes collaboration: The GWIRP continues to fund interdisciplinary and inter-
institutional research collaborations to better solve complex issues than by single
researchers working alone.
• Uses Consumer Reviewers1,5: Affected patients – who offer insight, focus, urgency, and
impact – are included at every level of program development and proposal review. This
ensures ill Gulf War veterans have a say in what research is funded that may directly
affect them.
• Funding: Congressionally directed via annual Defense (DoD) appropriations bills.

ABOUT GULF WAR ILLNESS (GWI): “GWI is characterized by multiple, diverse symptoms that
typically include chronic headache, widespread pain, cognitive difficulties, debilitating fatigue,
gastrointestinal problems, respiratory symptoms, sleep problems, and other abnormalities that
could not be explained by established medical diagnoses or standard laboratory tests. The
population of Veterans affected by GWI is a subset of the nearly 700,000 U.S. Warfighters who
served during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Studies indicate that approximately 25-32% of Gulf War
Veterans continue to experience symptoms associated with their deployment.”1 “Scientific
research . . . supports and further substantiates . . . that Gulf War illness is a serious physical
disease, affecting at least 175,000 veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War, that resulted from
hazardous exposures in the Gulf War theater.”3 (p.1)
Studies and surveys reviewed in the most recent (2014) RAC report indicated an elevated
prevalence of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)3(pp.23-25) and elevated rates of diagnosed migraines,
seizures, gastrointestinal conditions, respiratory conditions and skin disorders among Gulf War
veterans, and doubled brain cancer3(pp.23-26) death rates among veterans potentially exposed to
chemical warfare agents detonated at an Iraqi munitions complex at Khamisiyah, Iraq.

NEED AND SUPPORT FOR THE GWIRP: Landmark reports by the National Academy of Sciences’
Institute of Medicine (IOM)2 (pp. 10, 260-64) and the Congressionally-mandated VA Research
Advisory Committee (RAC) on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses3 (pp. 1, 4, 5, 13, 78, 83) emphasize that
“effective treatments, cures, and, it is hoped, preventions” for GWI can “likely be found,”
“…through a concerted national effort and rigorous scientific input.” 2 (p. 10) In addition,
important discoveries made by the GWIRP may also help protect current and future U.S.
military service members at risk of similar toxic exposures. (RAC, pp. 1, 4, 5, 13, 78, 83; IOM, pp. 10, 260-64.)

The RAC,3 more than 50 FY15 Independent Budget Veterans’ Service Organizations (IBVSO’s),4
scientist GWIRP panelists,1,5 and numerous consumer reviewers serving with the GWIRP1,5,6
have expressed strong support for the GWIRP to improve the health and lives of veterans
suffering from GWI. The FY15 IBVSO’s said the GWI CDMRP, “has made great strides in the
short time it has been operating,”4 (pp. 126-27) and the IBVSO’s (DAV, PVA, VFW, and 27 others) for
the 115th Congress (2017-18) ask Congress to “…provide sufficient funding to resume robust
research to identify effective treatments...”7 (pp. 92-93)

FY18 GWIRP Funding Supported by: American Legion; Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW);
Disabled American Veterans (DAV); Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA); AMVETS; Vietnam
Veterans of America (VVA); Veterans for Common Sense; Burn Pits 360; Lung Cancer Alliance;
National Gulf War Resource Center (NGWRC); National Vietnam & Gulf War Veterans Coalition
(NVGWVC); Sergeant Sullivan Circle.

GWIRP past annual funding levels:1
• FY06: $5m • FY12: $10m
• FY08: $10m • FY13-FY17: $20m (current; FY18 TBD)
• FY09-FY11: $8m

1 Gulf War Illness Research Program (GWIRP) 4
Independent Budget Veterans Service
website, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Organizations (IBVSO’s), “The Independent Budget
Program (CDMRP), U.S. Army Medical Research and for the Department of Veterans Affairs: Fiscal Year
Materiel Command, U.S Department of Defense 2015.”
2 Institute of Medicine (IOM), National Academy of 5
GWIRP program booklet, “Gulf War Illness
Sciences, “Gulf War and Health, Volume 8: Update of Research Program,” April 2014.
Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War,”
Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 6 GWIRP program booklet, April 2016.
health-volume-8-update-of-health-effects df
3 Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War 7
IBVSO’s, “The Independent Budget Veterans’
Veterans' Illnesses (RAC), U.S. Department of Agenda for the 115th Congress: Policy
Veterans Affairs, “Gulf War Illness and the Health of Recommendations for Congress and the
Gulf War Veterans: Research Update and Administration.”
Recommendations, 2009-2013.” Washington, D.C.:
U.S. Government Printing Office, May 2014. pdf