Gulf War Veterans – Research Volunteers Needed

VA researchers are looking for better treatments for Veterans with Gulf War Illness

By Christina Rumage Miller, Education Specialist – NJ WRIISC

Researchers at the New Jersey War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) are actively trying to develop better treatments for Gulf War Veterans with Gulf War Illness (GWI).

GWI is a term that refers to a group of unexplained or ill-defined chronic symptoms found in about one third of Veterans deployed to the Persian Gulf during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield (1990-1991).

Despite much research, the cause of GWI remains unclear and symptoms vary. Symptoms might include fatigue, muscle and joint pain, cognitive difficulty, and headaches.

One such potential treatment being investigated by VA researchers is concord grape juice. The juice has high concentrations of dietary polyphenols that are believed to have a variety of health benefits, including improving brain function.










One current study is investigating the role of daily concord grape juice consumption in treating symptoms of Gulf War Illness.

“Although grape juice is high in sugars, many people like the taste. It is also available on the grocery store shelf and relatively easy for most Veterans to incorporate into their diet,” said Dr. Drew Helmer, who is leading this study. “Before we promote grape juice as a treatment for Veterans with Gulf War Illness, however, we want to use this research to better understand its potential benefits.”

Following is a list of clinical trials currently recruiting participants. Participation in a trial is entirely voluntary and will not in any way affect a Veterans’ access to health care or benefits. Please consider volunteering; your participation may provide information that will improve the lives of others in the future.

Gulf War Veterans with GWI are encouraged to learn more and consider participating in the randomized controlled trials for Gulf War Veterans with GWI:

Randomized control trials are considered the “gold standard” of research aimed at finding better treatments. In a randomized controlled trial, participants are randomly assigned to either a group that is receiving the treatment under investigation or to a group receiving a comparison treatment, often the current “standard treatment”.

  • Development of Dietary Polyphenol Preparations for Treating Veterans with Gulf War Illness
    • Purpose: To investigate the role of daily Concord grape juice consumption in treating clinical symptoms of GWI in Gulf War Veterans
    • Location: VA in East Orange, N.J. (WRIISC site)
    • Recruitment Time Frame: Ongoing – June 2018
  • Cognitive Rehabilitation for Gulf War Illness
    • Purpose: To determine if telephone-delivered problem-solving treatment or telephone-delivered health education is more effective in helping Gulf War Veterans with GWI improve health and function and reduce disability
    • Location: Participation includes two testing visits to the VA in East Orange, N.J. (WRIISC facility) or to the VA in Canandaigua, N.Y. or Bedford, Mass.  Future telephone sessions can be completed
    • Recruitment Time Frame: Ongoing – Summer 2018
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation: A Non-Invasive Treatment to Improve the Health of Gulf War Veterans with Gulf War Illness
    • Purpose: To determine if use of a hand-held device that activates a nerve called the Vagus Nerve reduces widespread pain
    • Location: VA in East Orange, N.J. (WRIISC site) and Mount Sinai-Beth Israel in New York, N.Y.
    • Recruitment Time Frame: Ongoing – Winter 2018

Participating in these randomized clinical trials may prove helpful to Veterans on an individual level as treatment strategies could be effective. Participation also helps fellow Veterans and the broader Veteran community as information learned from these studies contributes to the growing body of knowledge on what works and what does not when treating GWI. The NJ WRIISC works with multiple VA and academic partners on ways to increase awareness of available treatment studies among Gulf War Veterans.

For more information regarding any of these studies, please contact the NJ WRIISC at 1-800-248-8005, or visit our website.

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