Saturday, March 01, 2008

Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program

February 27, 2008

The Honorable John Campbell
House of Representatives
1728 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0548

Representative Campbell:

Please support a $15 million appropriation to the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs in the FY 2009 Defense Appropriations to fund multiple sclerosis research. I ask that you show your support by signing the Dear Colleague letter regarding this issue being circulated by Congressmen Russ Carnahan (D-MO) and Michael Burgess, M.D.(R-TX).

MS is a chronic, unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system and is generally diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, the prime of life. The cause is still unknown and there is no cure.
Current medical treatments are not effective for many people and cannot be tolerated by many others.

I am a Vietnam Veteran who exhibited my first MS symptoms within 10 years of my return from Southeast Asia.

Many U.S. veterans have stories and symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Preliminary evidence suggests that Gulf War veterans could have an increased risk of developing MS. A study in the Annals of Neurology, for example, identified 5,345 cases of MS among U.S. veterans that were deemed "service-connected." The number of service-connected cases was a significant increase from previous studies. And an epidemiologic study found an unexpected, two-fold increase in MS between 1993 and 2000 in Kuwait, which suggests a potential environmental trigger for MS.

Dr. Mitch Wallin, Associate Director of Clinical Care at the VA's MS Center of Excellence-East, says that "current evidence points to an environmental trigger initiating the disease in a genetically susceptible host. The association of neurologic disease and GW (Gulf War) service may be related to a variety of potentially hazardous environmental exposures that were present in the war theater."

The DoD has an obligation to fund MS research related to service during the Gulf War. Not only would this research benefit our Gulf War veterans, but would also benefit all those who live with multiple sclerosis and related diseases.

I ask that you support MS research by signing Congressmen Carnahan and Burgess' Dear Colleague letter and joining us in our request for $15 million from the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs in the FY 2009 Defense Appropriations. Thank you for helping us move closer to a world free of MS.


Frank Austin

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