Reports suggest that as many as 700,000 veterans who served in the 1990-91 Gulf War suffer from chronic fatigue, heightened chemical sensitivity, skeletal pain, skin rashes and other medical conditions that physicians have been unable to attribute to a single cause. And because no one cause has so far been determined, the VA has denied veterans' medical claims.
This, despite the fact that in 2009 a federal panel of medical experts reached a consensus on Gulf War Illness, stating that it is real and affects at least a quarter of the all veterans who served in the 1990-91 conflict. This followed on from a report released by a Veterans' Affair advisory panel in 2008 which stated that scientific evidence leaves no question that Gulf War Syndrome is real. Furthermore, it has identifiable causes, and carries serious consequences for affected veterans.
Some of the possible causes have already been identified by the Pentagon, according to a report in TampaBay.com. In 1996 the Pentagon admitted that as many as 15,000 troops may have been exposed to nerve agents as a result of Iraqi munitions demolition projects. And, in 1997, the Pentagon stated that nearly 100,000 US troops may have been exposed to "nondamaging" levels of Iraqi poison gas. In 1999, survey results suggested that 300,000 troops had received experimental drugs to protect them against nerve gas, and that these drugs may have led to chronic conditions. Other theories relating to the development of Gulf War Illness include exposure to pesticide and oil well fires.
The VA reportedly claims that 85 percent of veterans who filed claims after fighting in the Persian Gulf in 1990-1991 have been granted benefits for at least one medical ailment. However, difficulty in having claims accepted for the totality of health problems such as Gulf War Illness, remains.