FEDERAL AGENCIES must redirect and coordinate data collection and research efforts, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee says, if answers are to be found to health questions raised by Persian Gulf War veterans (JAMA. 1994; 272:341).
Following continued reports from some veterans that they (and sometimes their families) are inexplicably ill, apparently as a result of military service during the 1991 Desert Storm liberation of Kuwait, Congress turned late in 1993 to the Washington, DC—based IOM, a 25-year-old private, nonprofit organization providing health policy advice under the 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences.
An 18-member IOM committee now has recommended, among other things, some epidemiologic studies using a population-based survey (of those who served in southwest Asia) to learn whether, and how much, the frequency of these mystery illnesses in Persian Gulf veterans exceeds that in the civilian population. The committee also recommends a single service-connected health