In my spins around the moonbattier side of the blogosphere, I've seen quite a lot about the claims of "xx% of Gulf War Era veterans are officially classified as disabled", with xx being a number between 26 and 56. One of the less moonbatty sites, the Gulf War Veteran's Resource Page, uses the 26% number, and is mostly concerned with getting "Gulf War Syndrome" classified as an officially recognized malady. (The 56% number comes from this really wacky page.) The VA has a five year old fact sheet here. While many veterans of this era no doubt suffer from many medical problems, I tend to agree with the hypothesis discussed here that:
Gulf War Syndrome is, most likely, an unfortunate bi-product of a combination of things.
-Tremendous media hype surrounding the threat of chemical and biological weapons during the First Gulf War.
-The litigious nature of our society.
-The fact that the United States Government is a target for litigation with very deep pockets, and
-Those with anti-war sentiments would like to discredit and defame the United States and the global war on terror.
The symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome (or Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, as the American Legion now calls it) include "Chronic Fatigue , Signs and symptoms involving skin (including skin rashes and unusual hair loss), Headache, Muscle pain, Neurologic signs or symptoms (nervous system disorders which could manifest themselves in numbness in one's arm, for instance), Neuropsychological signs or symptoms (including memory loss), Signs or symptoms involving upper or lower respiratory system, Sleep disturbances, Gastrointestinal signs or symptoms (including recurrent diarrhea and constipation), Cardiovascular signs or symptoms, (and) Menstrual disorders". To be honest, except for the last one, I've probably had most of those at one time or another, and I'd guess that most people my age have as well. Please note, however, that I spent the Gulf War defending the coast of Delaware, and didn't get to the Gulf until November 1992.
Here's the deal... if someone is told that they might have a disease, and to look out for certain symptoms, aren't they more likely to notice those things and "connect the dots" than someone who hasn't been told to watch out for it? Does this imply that they have some chronic condition, or is it also possible that they are going through that heartless process known as "aging".
A word about "disability determinations". I just got mine in the mail today, and as a result, am now an officially-designated "disabled veteran", and as such, can get into national parks for free. The main reason I got the disability rating is, in my opinion at least, valid, but I also got a "disability determination" for a few other things that don't quite measure up to what I think is the intent of the program. (They all came with "0% evaluation", which means you taxpayers don't have to pay me anything for it, but absent my main condition, they still would have made me a "disabled veteran".) These "disabilities" include scars from the removal of two moles that don't show up unless I'm wearing short bathing trunks, and two scars on my hand that came about from prying apart frozen hamburger patties with a sharp knife. (Yes, I know I'm stupid, and I was punished for it -- I honestly did realize that the knife could go through, and positioned my hand such that my palm wasn't directly opposite the knife; unfortunately, just a little bit of skin from the side of my hand was hanging over the edge of the patties, and the knife was very sharp...)
I digress. My point, assuming I had one, is that it's likely that many of the 183,000 veterans who actually served in the Gulf (or the 519,000 "Gulf War Era" veterans in total) who now have officially recognized disabilities, may actually have the less serious types of disabilities that I have. (Actually, since I'm a "Gulf War Era Vet", that last number just went up by one.) This doesn't keep the various moonbats from using the statistics to claim that they're all dying of exposure to depleted uranium, but people listening to their claims should be aware of the true nature of the disability determination process.