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THE MILITARY is declassifying documents from Operation Desert Storm, hoping to quash reports of chemical warfare and other speculation surrounding symptoms reported by Gulf War veterans (JAMA. 1994;271:1559-1561).
The move follows assertions by Sen Donald Riegle, Jr (D, Mich), that there is "clear evidence" from interviews his staff conducted with more than 600 Persian Gulf War veterans that troops were exposed to harmful levels of chemical, and possibly biological, agents during the war, and that such exposure may explain many of the symptoms some veterans are suffering. These include fatigue, progressive neuropathies, respiratory and gastrointestinal problems, skin rashes, chest pains, joint pain, irritability, memory and concentration problems, nervousness, depression, weakness, and sensitivity to certain chemicals.
Some spouses and children of veterans also report the symptoms, suggesting that the syndrome is transmissible, according to a report issued by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, which Riegle chairs.
Cotton P. Military Declassifies Some Gulf War Documents. JAMA. 1994;272(5):341. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520050021005