Doyle signs legislation designating Jan. 17 Gulf War illness day  (registration required)

Associated Press
Wed, Aug. 17, 2005

MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Jim Doyle designated Jan. 17 Gulf War Illness Recognition Day under legislation he signed Wednesday meant to highlight the mystery ailments that plagued many veterans who served in the 1991 conflict.

State officials believe Wisconsin is the first state to make such a formal designation.

Thousands of Gulf War veterans have experienced undiagnosed illnesses with symptoms such as chronic fatigue, loss of muscle control, diarrhea, migraines, dizziness, memory problems and loss of balance.

The federal government initially denied the mystery illnesses were linked to the war but have since initiated studies trying to pinpoint the cause. Officials first believed the problems were caused by stress but now are focusing on toxic substances veterans encountered during the war.

Various studies have shown Gulf War veterans have higher rates of testicular cancer than soldiers who where not deployed and were twice as likely to have Lou Gehrig's disease.

The Gulf War began on Jan. 17, 1991. Doyle said during a bill signing ceremony that even though the war lasted six weeks, many soldiers are still dealing with health problems associated with their service more than a decade ago. He hoped the designation would ensure annual recognition for their sacrifice and increase awareness of the struggle to find appropriate treatment.

About 10,400 Wisconsin soldiers served in the first Gulf War, and 11 died, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.


The bill is SB 193.


Department of Veterans Affairs: