Anthony Hardie - A Consumer’s Perspective: Fulfilling the Promise
Posted July 21, 2017
FY2017 GWIRP Consumer Vignette
Consumer: Anthony Hardie, Former Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army
Former Staff Sergeant
Former Staff Sergeant
I’m a Veteran of the 1991 Gulf War and Somalia. I served from 1986 until 1993 with the U.S. Army.
The Gulf War was pretty significant in that I had a lot of exposures and developed illness issues while I was still there in—in the Gulf. Today, we know it as Gulf War Illness.
During the Gulf War, we took pyridostigmine bromide anti-nerve agent pills that were experimental at the time. They were used as a prophylaxis to try and help us to survive a nerve agent attack.
We also had exposures to military-strength pesticides at high-concentrations, day after day, without being able to shower.
It’s now fairly well understood in the scientific community that experimental drugs and vaccinations, pesticides, low-level chemical warfare agent exposures, particulates and off-putt from the burning oil well fires, depleted uranium, and other…exposures. That Gulf War toxic soup then led to neurological and immunological damage that, in turn, led to Gulf War Illness, as we call it today.
Many Gulf War Veterans deal with chronic debilitating fatigue, with chronic widespread pain that’s also debilitating, with gastrointestinal issues, often irritable bowel syndrome, with respiratory issues, with skin and dermatologic issues, and so on.
The most important work of this program, the ultimate goal of this program, is to try and find treatments for Veterans dealing with Gulf War Illness.
As early research findings have come in, that in turn has led to follow-on studies. It’s really exciting; one of those follow-on studies is Co-Enzyme Q10.
We now understand that there’s a situation called mitochondrial dysfunction. So the powerhouses of our body’s cells are being negatively affected, and it’s causing energy depletion issues, and that in turn can lead to an array of symptoms consistent with Gulf War Illness.
Interestingly, helping to reverse that is done by giving supplementation to those powerhouses. And one of those substances is Co-Q10, and Co-Q10 was shown to be effective in helping a number of Gulf War Veterans—the Gulf War Veterans that were in the study. It’s also helped me as a Gulf War Veteran. I…I take it now, and it’s…it’s been significant for improving my symptoms. It’s not a cure. It hasn’t helped every symptom, and the symptoms that it does help, it hasn’t reversed those back to perfectly normal health.
We know that there are immune markers that can be objectively measured…that help to make the case that this Veteran is, in fact, dealing with Gulf War Illness. It’s really interesting that that’s really one of the important focuses of the Gulf War Illness Research Program, is to help to identify biomarkers that will be indicative of and will help us to better define what—who has Gulf War Illness. And they’re finding them.
Other studies, two large interdisciplinary teams of researchers who were funded by the Gulf War Illness Research Program in fiscal year ’12—one headquartered out of Boston; one headquartered out of NOVA Southeastern University in Florida. The first team is doing state-of-the-art scientific research to be able to identify what treatments might be the most effective in actually getting at the underlying disease of Gulf War Illness.
The other treatment team out of Florida is using data from animals exposed to Gulf War toxins, Gulf War Veterans, so many human samples, and now, tying all that together using this complex computer modeling system and, ideally again, predicting what treatments will be effective in resetting the body back to a…a more healthy normal than the unhealthy new normal that Gulf War Illness Veterans experience.
So what’s really exciting to me about this Gulf War Illness Research Program is that it involves, not just science and medical doctors who are experts in their field, but also Gulf War Veterans who are called consumer reviewers, Gulf War Veterans like me who are actually dealing with this condition and sit with equal footing on the—on the panel and are able to weigh in on what research is getting funded that is most likely to help us and what is most likely to speed treatments through to the finish line, to be able to get effective treatments.
When we went to war, we knew that there was a risk of us being killed or being wounded. And we fully accepted that risk. But we also had the expectation that our country would take care of us if we came home wounded, or would take care of our survivors if we didn’t make it home. This program is helping to fulfill that promise.
And I’m grateful for the members of Congress that have stood by Gulf War Veterans and have never wavered. I’m grateful for the leadership within the Department of Defense that helps to make this program happen and helps to ensure that this program is indeed finding and funding the best research aimed at finding treatments and cures for Gulf War Illness.
Last updated Thursday, November 9, 2017