TESTIMONY OF MONTRA DENISE NICHOLS
VICE CHAIRMAN OF NATIONAL VIETNAM
AND GULF WAR VETERANS COALITION
To THE INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE
TREATMENT OF GULF WAR SYNDROME
AUGUST 14, 2000
I am Denise Nichols, Vice Chairman of the National Vietnam and Gulf War
Veterans Coalition. I served in Operation Desert Storm as a Nurse and was
located on the border of Saudi Arab and Iraq. I have a master's degree(MSN)
and 20 plus years of nursing experience. Sadly, I have had to retire from
active nursing due to my health changes since the war.
Since 1992, I stepped forward to work on the issue of Gulf War illnesses. I
have testified, networked with other gulf war veterans stateside and
internationally, networked with doctors and researchers, and educated
congressional and senatorial staffers of the problems that gulf war veterans
The testimony today is to talk about treatment options for gulf war
But, in order to treat Gulf war veterans, one must first diagnosis them
appropriately by doing a complete and comprehensive physical examination and
order appropriate diagnostic testing directed towards neurological and
immunological abnormalities This is NOT Being- Done!
The VA and Military Comprehensive examination is faulty. I have included in
my testimony, a copy of the comprehensive examination protocol being
at the VA and military medical facilities. You will not see any of the
speciality tests that have been identified as markers of the damage we gulf
war veterans have experienced in this protocol. The deficits that we are
finding is that they are not using appropriate testing such as Spect Scans,
Viral screening, specialized MRIs, and specialized testing by means of
laboratory tests that can show the damage to the neurological and
immunological systems of the body. Tests that have been documented,
published, and testified to the Shays Government Reform Committee,
Presidential Advisory Committee, Presidential Oversight Cormmittee (Dr Ari
Vjordani), IOM, CDC, and other committees by Dr Ari Vjordani, Hailey,
Baumzweiger, Callender , Hyman.and Nicholson are not being ordered for all
veterans of the Gulf War through the VA hospitals or any other military
hospital. Dr Nicholson's tests and treatment for mycoplasma infections is
currently in research for a limited number of the gulf war veterans as is Dr
Hymen's. I am asking why at least the testing for these infections has not
been instituted for all Gulf War Veterans? Even widespread testing for
Leischmaniasis has not been performed.
These tests are the ones that are consistently showing the immunological and
neurological damage not only on the deployed ill gulf war veterans but also
the nondeployed but deployable ready veterans who are showing the same
How do we fix this glaring disconnect? It is CRITICAL that we do so
immediately, Because until all available laboratory and diagnostic testing
are performed for each veteran who has reported in ill, we will never get
We need this committee to immediately report this problem to the full chain
of command and request that all comply throughout the VA and DOD medical
system. Until this is done, we will all suffer from inadequate physical
assessment and omission of appropriate diagnostic procedures and coding
leaving the gulf war veterans in a true Catch 22 position. We can not move
treatment until the system is corrected throughout.
The tests that are being shown that prove the damage are avoided at all
by the government. The research findings that are being found for example Dr
Hailey's findings are not being utilized or included in the workup provided
by the VA or DOD. The independent testing that has found results from Dr
Baumzweiger, Dr. Ari Vjordani, and Dr. Berg is not being funded or utilized
in anyway to assist the Gulf War veterans to even get adequate diagnosing.
SPECT Scans as documented as useful by Dr. Callender and other doctors are
not being ordered for the veterans seeking care at the VA or military
Neurological, Immunological, viral testing, urine testing (Dr Hymen),
mycoplasma testing are all being avoided. Is this medical malpractice?
Omission of appropriate diagnosing and care and ignorance of published
midical testing could bery definaitely be considered malpractice.
In Feb 1999, at the CDC conference on Gulf War syndrome, Dr Bill Baumzweiger
was asked by the Georgia veterans to examine a veteran who had been special
forces and led the way into Iraq. Dr Bill Braumzweiger agreed to perform a
physical assessment of the person in his hotelroom. What I observed then and
numerous times before and after that session, was no hocus pocus it was a
detailed history taking and a detailed physical assessment with particular
emphasis on the neurological system. This veteran like so many of the tens
thousands of veterans showed clear and unmistakable neurological damage.
the assessment was completed, I asked the veteran if he had gone through the
VA system to get help. He replied yes to three different VAs with three
different neurologists but NONE of them had done such a detailed and
I myself can validate that this in fact is true. I have tried through the VA
to receive diagnosis and care and what occurs is a very minimal physical
assessment and no referral to specialist in the fields of neurology,
immunology, infectious disease, rheumatology, etc. I have had to send my
blood off to speciality labs throughout the country to get answers. I have
had to go independently to get a Spec Scan. All of these have shown definite
I have those reports with me today for each of you to review. These tests
simultaneous immune suppression and autoimmunity not characteristic of most
diseases studied in medicine. These findings were originally theorized and
found by Dr Bill Baumzweiger and validated by Dr Hailey's team in
Dallas,Texas where a full medical university has been activated to get to
true diagnosis of gulf war syndrome. The SPEC Scan demonstrates the damage
that is consistently being found on these veterans that shows immunologicaly
caused coagulation perfusion problems. The Specialized MRI MRS being done by
Dr Hailey and Fleckenstein lends even more documented data to the brain stem
damage that we gulf war veterans have sustained. Unfortunately, I have not
been able to obtain that study yet.
I have taken these same results in to the VA Primary Doctor that I have and
that Doctor refused to study them or to get in contact with the Drs or the
lab research specialists that provided these tests even when given the names
and phone numbers and directly asked to contact them and discuss the
in order to better provide care not only to myself but thousands of other
gulf war veterans who are suffering. This VA doctor without even studying
tests results said: Oh you can get SPURULOUS Lab Results. The VA Doctor
instead ask me if I would like a referral for a psychiatric consult but no
referral to neurology or immunology.
I have physical medical damage to my body and this is what an educated
injured retired gulf war veteran medical professional gets as far as
diagnosis and treatment?
This is the evidence of the nonwritten VA policy to do nothing, to not
independent medical assessment ideas and thoughts, to not find or even
consider looking for answers to the diagnostic needs of gulf war veterans.
It is outright medical malfesance to allow at least 220.000 veterans to walk
around begging for help with this extensive of neurological immunological
damage. How would you like to live with the effects of this damage?
Overwhelming debilitating fatigue, memory problems so bad that one of my
veterans couldn't even remember his wife of 20 years name, memory and visual
problems that force veterans to not be able to drive or participate in
life functions, decreasing mental intellectual abilities, irritability and
lack of understanding from family, other friends, or health professionals,
and absolutely no support mechanisms in place!
This is criminal neglect when testing, appropriate diagnostic procedures and
physical assessment, and treatment could effectively be saving lives and
improving their functional abilities. So help us now to make a huge change
the system and become proactive with us in calling for these appropriate
actions with funding to be made available immediately not in ten more years.
Make these tests and diagnostic realities commonplace in every VA and
military facility for every gulf war veteran. We can do
this with this IOM's committee's report. Shorten your deliberations and
techniques and cut the bureaucratic government foot dragging denial
Rise up, to the moral and ethical duties and DO IT NOW.
We also need to consider the veterans who were nondeployed to theater but
deploy ready who are ill that Dr Baumzweiger and other doctors have
evaluated and performed diagnostic testing that show they too have physical
damage. We need to examine those who have received the anthrax vaccine or
other vaccines and reported reactions and ill health conseaquences. Every
committee we have had involved pointedly avoids considering a vaccination
related problem. WE urgently need this put on to the list as a number one
priority in order to STOP more troops from becoming ill.
We also need to agressively get answers to the problem of transmitability to
and close friends... it is absolutely outrageous that the goverment has not
approached this as the number one health problem since the war. Also we need
to address and find answers to the question that the gulf war veterans both
male and femail are experiencing sexual functional abilities disruption.
These are critical issues! It is a wonder that more violence has not
with this group of veterans that have been so poorly treated over the last
ten years. We are not study guinea pigs we are real live people that put our
lives on the line for our country.
It is not right that our family members that have become ill who did not
that same contract as we did are not being more directly assisted.
Those of us who are ill consider the number one priority to be finding
appropriate testing (diagnosing) and treatment to correct these problems. WE
are the ones that have taken a proactive stance in order to teach you the
lessons learned. It is not the DOD or VA that is leading. We have done this
by paying out of our own pockets to get these tests. The costs for tests may
run to an estimated 5,000-10,000 dollars for each veteran. But this sure
appears to be much cheaper than the millions of dollars spent on research
funded by the government designed in the wrong direction, designed to find
association or help, and designed to protect the status quo.
While this delay continues, more veterans are becoming more severely
disabled, loosing jobs and family, filing for bankruptcy, filing for
disability, and yes Dying. We received news the other day that veterans who
served in Kosovo and Bosnia will be studied for
20 years for changes in their health. Is this any different than the Tuskgee
Syphilus study that our nation has finally acknowledged? What are the other
costs to name a few: loss of fully functional individuals that could be
producing economic income instead of being a debt burden, loss of confidence
and trust in the Government we believed and served, and loss of personnel
recruitment and retention for our government's military services. The
now seem to be squarely in the face of the IOM to set the government
and to correct the errors of the past. We hope you stand up and start
immediate reports to the chain of command that brought us all here today in
order that this deplorable situation can immediately be rectified.
Thank you and I sincerely hope that each of you on the committee have
questions for me and others today, so that we can have a true open exchange
of information and scientific inquiry today and make that huge turn that is
so desperately needed