BY MICHAEL INMAN, The Canberra Times, 31 Oct, 2010
THE AUSTRALIAN Government has rejected the pleas of war veterans to recognise the existence of Gulf War Syndrome, thwarting the hopes of hundreds for extra medical aid and compensation.
Despite being recognised in both the United Kingdom and the United States, an investigation by the Repatriation Medical Authority, the results of which were announced in the authority's annual report, found the syndrome was not an injury or disease as defined by Veterans' Entitlements Act.
Veterans' groups said yesterday they were devastated by the ruling and felt abandoned by the country they had risked their lives to protect.
Former soldier Bruce Relph said, ''I'm disappointed that countries in the northern hemisphere have recognised GWS but our Government won't it's unfair and unjust.''
But the Department of Veterans' Affairs said Australians who served in the 1990-91 conflict already had access to compensation and medical care, despite being denied recognition for the syndrome.
More than 1800 Australians served in the 1990-91 conflict, with hundreds estimated to be afflicted with the syndrome.
Exposure to sarin nerve agent and organophosphate pesticides, and medications, such as pyridostigmine bromide pills, issued to personnel as protection against disease and nerve gas attacks, have been linked to the disease.