War Related Illness and Injury Study Center
Gulf War Illnesses
About 697,000 men and women served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August 1990 to April 1991 during the Gulf War. In the years since they returned, nearly a quarter of these Veterans have experienced a number of symptoms that have led VA and others to research whether potential Gulf War exposures may have caused their symptoms.
A number of research studies have looked at whether potentially harmful environmental exposures that Gulf War Veterans may have been exposed to are linked to the symptoms Gulf War Veterans have experienced. To date, no link has been found, but research continues to be ongoing to better understand the relationship between deployment exposures and health symptoms.
Several research studies have found that Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease) (ME/CFS (SEID)), fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome are more commonly diagnosed among Gulf War Veterans than non-Gulf War Veterans. Additionally, the VA recognizes certain infectious diseases as related to military service in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War starting August 2, 1990, through the conflict in Iraq and on or after September 19, 2001, in Afghanistan.
There is a Gulf War Registry Program for Gulf War Veterans who have health concerns that they believe are related to their Gulf War service. This program provides eligible Gulf War Veterans a free specialized and comprehensive health examination with blood work, urinalysis, other testing as indicated, and answers to questions relating to any Gulf War environmental exposures. If you are interested in this program, please contact the Environmental Health Coordinator at your local VA.