With the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the Gulf War conflict fast approaching, we attempt to answer the question: Are Gulf War veterans entitled to Gulf War syndrome compensation?
The Gulf War saw 50,000 British service personnel flown out to the Persian Gulf to take part in the US-led Operation Desert Storm, and The Royal British Legion has issued fresh calls for research into Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) and greater support for veterans suffering from the illness. The calls come despite successful UK governments’ failures to acknowledge and understand the adverse physical, emotional and cognitive difficulties now present in more than 60% of Gulf veterans – a rate more than twice as high than any other major conflict in modern history.
33,000 British Gulf War Veterans Could be Affected by Gulf War Syndrome
33,000 British Gulf veterans are now thought to experience a raft of difficulties ranging through chronic headaches, fatigue, memory problems, sleep disturbances, joint pains, irritable bowels, stomach and respiratory disorders and broader psychological problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At first, the evidence in support of Gulf War syndrome compensation might seem overwhelming, but the issue remains a controversial one, with the MoD stating the following in a message to the BBC:
“The overwhelming consensus of the scientific and medical community…is that the range of symptoms is too broad…for this ill health to be characterised as a syndrome in medical terms”
The British Legion argues that more needs to be done to understand and combat the difficulties faced by Gulf veterans, with policy advisor Marie Louise Sharp also issuing a statement on the matter:
“We know the health of ill Gulf War veterans continues to be an important area for the government, which is why the Legion is calling for investment into research so we can understand how to improve the lives of those affected…In addition, we ask for formal communication channels to be established to convey the results of US research developments to Gulf War veterans living here in the UK.”
UK Government Ignores Calls for Public Enquiry
A 2005 tribunal enquiry into the matter eventually concluded that Gulf War Syndrome cannot be accurately described as a qualified pathological entity, but that it does effectively serve as an umbrella term for the conditions now accepted to be associated with serving in the conflict. The MoD did initially respond to this by stating that it has “always accepted” that some veterans have become ill “and that this ill health may be related to their Gulf experience”. Despite this, successive UK governments have ignored calls for a full public enquiry into the matter. Many injured and ill veterans suffering from Gulf War syndrome do receive financial support from the War Pensions Scheme, but there may be many who are suffering who many not realise their symptoms are linked to their military service, or may not realise there may be financial compensation for Gulf War Syndrome available to them.
Curiously, the British Legion cites an MoD-commissioned study at Cardiff University, which began in 2009 with the aims of examining potential interventions to rehabilitate Gulf War veterans, before the MoD cut off funding for the secondary phase of the project, giving no official explanation for doing so. The fact remains that whilst officials and politicians continue to turn their backs on the issue, tens of thousands of Gulf veterans are to this day may not be receiving the armed forces compensation they deserve and need to move forward with their lives.
Are Gulf War veterans Entitled to Gulf War Syndrome Compensation?
Commenting on the potential for veterans to claim for Gulf War Syndrome compensation, military injury compensation solicitor at Blackwater Law Personal Injury Solicitors, said:
“Some veterans will be receiving financial support through the War Pensions Scheme. But the onset of illnesses stemming from military service can be delayed and in some cases by many years. If veterans have been diagnosed in the past three years as suffering from illness related to their military service years ago, they may be entitled to claim armed forces compensation. We would encourage veterans to call a specialist lawyer for free initial advice on potentially claiming compensation for Gulf War Syndrome.”
So are Gulf War veterans entitled to Gulf War syndrome compensation? As with the vast majority of personal injury compensation claims, the answer depends on the individual circumstances of the individual. We therefore recommend speaking to our specialist military compensation solicitors as soon as possible in order to find out if you are entitled to make a claim for Gulf War syndrome compensation.
Making a Claim for Gulf War Syndrome Compensation
If you or a loved one feel you may be entitled to some form of Gulf War Syndrome compensation, contact Blackwater Law solicitors today for free initial legal advice on 0800 083 5500. All accepted armed forces compensation claims are operated on a “no win, no fee” basis.