Shortly after the end of the First Gulf War, reports emerged from the United States of Gulf War veterans developing unusual illnesses. These were followed by similar reports from the UK, Denmark, Canada and Australia in 1993. In all these cases, previously fit veterans had developed unusual diseases, illnesses and symptoms.
Whilst all of these symptoms already occurred within the Armed Forces and the population more widely, such as headaches and nausea, what remains unusual about ill Gulf War veterans is that they report more of these symptoms than expected, and at a greater intensity. They are also more likely to have chronic fatigue, cognitive problems, reduced coordination, hypertension, skin conditions, and PTSD.
Our recent Freedom of Information request revealed that 1,300 Gulf War veterans currently claim a War Pension for conditions connected to their Service in the Gulf. Yet research suggests that as many as 33,000 UK Gulf War veterans could be living with Gulf War illnesses. It is therefore disappointing that there has been little meaningful research regarding best practice to alleviate some of the associated symptoms.
Evidence and debates surrounding Gulf War illnessesDownload the report
We believe it is important that Gulf War veterans who have developed illnesses as a result of their Service should be properly supported and that there should be improved awareness of the specific health needs of this particular group of veterans.
We are delighted to be supported in this campaign by the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association, and invite all Legion supporters to joins us in raising awareness of this campaign.
The Royal British Legion was part of the Gulf War Group, set up with representatives from veterans' organisations, medical and scientific fields, parliamentarians and veterans themselves.
On 9 May 2007, the Gulf War Group hosted a conference for veterans and launched their report Gulf War: a legacy of suspicion, which consolidated the evidence and debates surrounding Gulf War illnesses. The report outlines the steps required to recognise the sacrifice these veterans have made, and improve support provision.
If you served in the First Gulf War and believe that your health has suffered as a result, there is help available.
In the first instance, it is advisable that you contact your GP, making sure that you identify yourself as a veteran. Tell them that you are suffering symptoms that you believe are related to your time in Service.
Freephone: 0800 032 6258 E: DPHCE-DCMHCHL-VRMHP@mod.uk
Freephone: 0800 138 1619 Text: 07537 404 719 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
T: 0845 257 4853 E: email@example.com NGVFA provide a 24 hr helpline (funded by a grant from the Legion) for paid up NGVFA members. Information about joining is available on their website.
Further information can be found online at: www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Militaryhealthcare/veterans-families-reservists/Pages/veterans.aspx
For further information about Gulf War illnesses, please visit the Gulf Veterans illnesses section of the MOD’s website.
We can help veterans claim compensation for injuries and illnesses sustained during Service. We do this by providing independent advice and information, and we can represent veterans at a tribunal for free, if they want to take further action.
Contact us for a claim form, help with an Appeals Tribunal, or for general advice.
Find out more about compensation for War Pension Scheme recipients.