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VA ESTABLISHES REFERRAL CENTERS TO ASSIST PERSIAN GULF VETERANS

 VA ESTABLISHES REFERRAL CENTERS TO ASSIST PERSIAN GULF VETERANS
 WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is establishing special environmental medicine referral centers at its hospitals in West Los Angeles, Houston and Washington to handle cases of unusual symptoms in veterans of the Persian Gulf conflict.
 The action was prompted by reports of symptoms possibly related to environmental contaminants among Gulf-veteran cases in the Department of Defense (DOD) health care system that may ultimately reach VA's network of hospitals and clinics. Candidates for referral would be incapacitated veterans whose evaluation at a local VA medical center has evaded diagnosis.
 Last month VA sought legislative authority to give Persian Gulf veterans special access to VA for a thorough physical examination and the entry of health-related data into a computerized tracking registry.
 VA Secretary Edward J. Derwinski said: "While we await upcoming congressional hearings or deliberations on this proposal, we are prepared to assist any Gulf veteran who may be experiencing health problems right now. Although we have not seen any unusual patterns yet, we hope our planning for these new referral centers will prove to be a precaution that brings us only limited numbers of patients in the future."
 The three centers were selected based on availability of clinical and academic expertise in such areas as pulmonary and infectious diseases, immunology, neuropsychology and access to toxicology expertise. The centers will have an emphasis on groups of symptoms that may suggest responses to toxic environmental agents.
 VA facilities are also streamlining access for Persian Gulf veterans who may have service-related problems, providing review of their symptoms and collecting any diagnostic findings and service data that will later be entered into a computerized tracking registry that would provide long-term surveillance and suggest patterns for research.
 VA also is in the process of establishing 32 Persian Gulf War Family Support Centers in 26 states. The centers will provide marriage and family counseling services for Persian Gulf War veterans, their spouses and children. VA will be working closely with DOD, National Guard and Reserve Units, the Red Cross and community agencies to conduct outreach and coordinate services.
 -0- 8/18/92
 /CONTACT: Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Public Affairs, 202-535-8300/ CO: Department of Veterans Affairs ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU:


DC -- DC011 -- 1024 08/18/92 14:23 EDT
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Date:Aug 18, 1992
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