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Government Extends Deadline for Gulf

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FORT BRAGG — Gulf War Syndrome sufferers received good news Monday from the government.They will be able to file disability claims with Washington through theyear 2001, and for Robert Walker that was good news.

After 14 years of service with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, Walker wasmedically discharged after returning home from the Gulf War in 1991.Walker suffers from sleeping disorders, nervousness, rashes, memory loss,and back pain, all resulting, he believes, from exposure to chemicalweapons during the war in the Persian Gulf.

For the past year, Walker has been fighting the Office of Veterans'Affairs in Washington for an answer to his claim for disabilitycompensation. Walker believes that the battle with the government overthemoney has hurt his family most of all.

Walker says that the extension of the deadline may benefit his claim. Hefeels that today's announcement is a step in the right direction,althought it may take awhile.

Until now, only veterans with symptoms within two years after the war wereeligible for benefits. Of the 66,000 Gulf War vets who have filed claims with the governmentfor disability compensation, 28,000 currently receive benefits. Thatnumber is expected to surge in the years ahead.

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