More than a decade after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, there is continued interest in the federal response to the health concerns of Gulf War veterans. Gulf War veterans' reports of illnesses and possible exposures to various health hazards have prompted numerous federal research projects on Gulf War illnesses. This research has been funded primarily by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In 1993, the President named the Secretary of VA as the responsible party for coordinating research activities undertaken or funded by the executive branch of the federal government on the health consequences of service in the Gulf War. In 2002, a congressionally mandated federal advisory committee--the VA Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC)--was established to provide advice on federal Gulf War illnesses research needs and priorities to the Secretary of VA. This statement is based on GAO's report entitled Department of Veterans Affairs: Federal Gulf War Illnesses Research Strategy Needs Reassessment (GAO-04-767). The testimony presents findings about the status of research on Gulf War illnesses and VA's communication and collaboration with RAC.
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