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General Questions

Q. Is there any information linking deployments to Bosnia and illnesses?

A. There is very little published information about illness related to service in Bosnia, when compared to the great quantity of published articles about the health of Gulf War veterans. However, the Department of Defense routinely tracks the occurrence of disease and injury among those serving in Bosnia. There is an unavoidable but low frequency of disease and accidental injuries that are clearly linked to the deployment. Although there was concern about environmental hazards and the infectious diseases called tick-borne encephalitis and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, these have not materialized as significant threats due to various preventive actions.

Q. How can I obtain information on military aircraft, units, and weapons?

A. The Defense Department maintains a comprehensive collection of fact sheets. Visit Defenselink Fact Sheets to find out more information on defense statistics, weapon systems, aircraft, ships and more. For specific information on each of the service, please visit their respective Web sites.

 Q. How can I get a copy of my military records or a family member’s military records?

A. The individual military departments do not maintain files or records pertaining to individuals no longer on active duty. When an individual is separated from military service (because of retirement, discharge from active duty, or for example death), his/her Field Personnel File (containing all military and health records) is forwarded for storage to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Mo. The Records Center is under the jurisdiction of the National Archives and Records Administration (http://www.archives.gov/facilities/mo/st_louis.html ) of the United States Government.

An individual's complete service record is available to the former servicemember or, if deceased, to his/her next of kin (parents, spouse, or children). Some limited information (such as dates of service, awards, and training) is releasable to the public. Personal information, however, such as medical records, Social Security number or current address are not released to third parties.

The St. Louis Center receives many requests for service records each week, so a request will be processed with greater speed and accuracy if the requester uses a Standard Form 180, "Request Pertaining to Military Records." You may obtain a copy by downloading pdf versions from DefenseLINK or by calling (703) 697-5737. Standard Form 180, which contains instructions, is also available from most veterans organizations or by writing to the National Personnel Records Center at the following address:

National Personnel Records Center
9700 Page Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri 63172

If requesting the records of a family member, the requester should mention the relationship to the former member ("brother," "uncle," for example). There is no charge for this service to former service members or their next of kin. For others, a nominal fee is charged for research and reproduction costs. (In this regard, files at the Records Center are maintained as historical records only and are not updated to reflect current data on the former service member.)

For individuals compiling family histories: the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), located at 8th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., 20408, provides assistance to those interested in genealogy. NARA normally charges a nominal fee for research and reproduction costs. For more information on this service, call (202) 501-5400.

Q. I was hospitalized during the Gulf War, but I don't know where. How can I find my medical records?

A. In 1998, the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses initiated a program for Gulf War veterans to obtain copies of their in-patient hospital records from hospitals established during the Gulf War. These records are located in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Mo.

Locating a servicemember's record initially proved a difficult task, because the records were filed only by the name of the hospital and date of treatment. Working with the offices of the Surgeons General, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the National Personnel Record Center, we have completed an electronic database to cross-reference patient names and Social Security Numbers with the theater hospitals and admission dates.

Veterans can call (800) 497-6261 and provide their name and Social Security Number to determine if their record was recorded in the database and obtain necessary paperwork from the Office of the Special Assistant to request a copy of the record from the NPRC.

Q. How many Gulf War veterans have died since they returned from the Gulf?

A. According to the Social Security Administration as of December 2000, some 6,695 Gulf War veterans have died. This number reflects only those individuals who deployed to the Gulf War from August 1990 to February 1991.

Q. What is Gulf War Syndrome?

A. The term "Gulf War Syndrome" has been popularized by the media as a shorthand way of referring to the fact that many Gulf War veterans have experienced medical problems since the war. The term corrupts the traditional medical use of the word "syndrome" that refers to a combination of symptoms, signs, and diagnostic tests which is sufficiently unique to allow scientists to say that the combination represents a single disease process that can be distinguished from other diseases. No new syndrome has been found among Gulf War veterans.

Q. Is there one single illness that can be associated with Gulf War illnesses?

A. No single, unique, and previously unrecognized "Gulf War Syndrome" has been identified among ailing Gulf War veterans. Most veterans who have been clinically evaluated have been found to have readily recognizable medical diagnoses. More than 500 well-known illnesses and diagnoses have been found to be responsible. Sixty of these conditions account for 75 percent of the diagnoses recorded.

About 20 percent of ailing veterans have unexplained physical symptoms which can't be attributed to traditional diagnoses. Such patients are often cited as evidence for a "Gulf War Syndrome," even though the phenomenon of unexplained physical symptoms has been recognized for many years in outpatient, primary care clinics which serve members of the general population. Such patients' symptoms cover a wide range of complaints that vary in their nature (for example, pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, headache, rash), in their severity, and in their occurrence with other symptoms. The major common element among such patients is that they have no objective, observable abnormalities on physical examination, X-ray, or laboratory tests to confirm the presence of a known condition that would explain the symptoms.