Local News

Fayetteville Leads the Nation in Gulf War Syndrome Exams

Posted May 26, 1998

— The Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Fayetteville leads the nation in Gulf War illness exams. The exams are the first step in evaluating the health of Gulf War veterans and hopefully, the first step in providing some much-needed answers.

Fifty-year-old Dick Webb has no symptoms of what many soldiers call Gulf War Syndrome. But the veteran still decided to take part in a voluntary Gulf War illness evaluation.

"I just wanted to get my name on a registry for eligible veterans in the Gulf War," Webb explains.

The Gulf War registry is a way for the government to gather statistics on each veteran who was in the Persian Gulf. Statistics on veterans with symptoms and those without.

"We send the information to the central office," explains Dr. Lorenzo Briones, "maybe they will tell us something, come up with a solution."

The Fayetteville VA Medical Center recently surpassed all other VA Centers in the number of the evaluations performed. Hospital officials say the new ranking is not a sign that there are more sick veterans here, but just that there are a large number of veterans living in the area.

Nationwide an estimated 12% of Gulf War Veterans do have unexplainable symptoms. Forty-five year old Joseph Poe is one of them. He believes the exams will help experts find a cause long term. In the short term, the physicals can help treat the symptoms.

"Does that cure what the problem is?" Poe asks. "No, but does it get me through the days? Yes."

Similar exams are offered at Womack Army Medical Center and The Durham VA. But their numbers don't compare with the Fayetteville VA, which performs more than 300 of these exams a year.

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