BU/VA Thank Veterans on Anniversary of Gulf War

On April 6, 1991, Iraq accepted the provisions of United National Security Council Resolution 687, thus ending the Gulf War. On April 9, 2016, Boston University joined with the VA Boston Healthcare System to host an event to thank those who served.

Dr. Terence Keane, Associate Chief of Staff, Research and Development at the VA Boston Healthcare System and Assistant Dean for Research at BU Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, gave the opening remarks. “We take this opportunity, on the 25th anniversary of the Gulf War, to offer you our sincere thanks,” Keane told the approximately 100 Gulf War Veterans in attendance.

Dr. Anna Hohler, Director for the Center for Military and Post Deployment Health at BU, thanked the Veterans for their continued service. “Not only did you serve in the Gulf, but you have continued to serve through your participation in research studies that will ultimately improve the health of your fellow soldiers and of the population in general,” Hohler said.

The Color Guard of the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine presented the Colors while The Newtones of Newton South High School sang the National Anthem.

Dr. Roberta White, Chair of the Department of Environmental Health at the BU School of Public Health, gave an overview of research conducted over the past quarter century. White, who told the Veterans of her personal connection having lost her own father to a war-related illness, has been involved in extensive research that has led to acceptance of Gulf War Illness (GWI) as a physical illness. White presented a summary of studies that have identified chemical exposures associated with GWI and neuroimaging evidence of structural brain damage associated with GWI.

Veterans also heard from several BU and VA researchers who continue to conduct ground-breaking studies related to Gulf War Illness. Drs. Barbara Niles, Margaret Naeser, Kimberly Sullivan, Rosemary Toomey, Maxine Krengel, Neil Kowall (represented by Ms. Tranijit Singh) and Scott Kinlay presented information on current studies aimed at increasing our understanding of and improving treatment for GWI.

Mr. Anthony Hardie, a Veteran advocate and Director of Veterans for Common Sense, urged audience members to take part in ongoing research at BU and the VA. “These studies are only as good as our participation,” Mr. Hardie told his fellow Gulf War Veterans.

In addition to providing important information on Gulf War Illness and services available to Veterans, the event provided a forum for Veterans to talk with one another about their shared experiences. Most important, the gathering gave researchers and clinicians an opportunity to say thank you to the men and women who have served and continue to give through their study participation.