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U.S. Veteran Living with MS Testifies Before Congress

Jun 04, 2008

U.S. Veteran Living with MS Testifies Before Congress

U.S. veteran Bob Wolz from Kentucky believes his multiple sclerosis diagnosis could be linked to his military service. He shared his story in testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense, on June 4. Following is an excerpt from his testimony…

I am a retired Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army. I served more than 20 years as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Specialist, with two tours in Korea and Germany, the Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and various stateside units. I believe my MS is a lingering wound from my tour of duty in the Gulf War.

My resulting disease and disabilities have been deemed service connected by the VA. I served with the First Armored Division, 69th Chemical Company during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. In March of 1991, we were in Kuwait living and working within the dark clouds of the burning Kuwaiti oil wells. Additionally, I was located within the downwind hazard plume from the Khamisiyah Pit demolition that contained sarin and cyclosarin…

One day after a mission, I showered and attempted to trim my fingernails. I was a soldier, but my left hand could not squeeze the clippers to accomplish this simple task … After numerous tests, my MRI revealed a 19 millimeter lesion on my C4 vertebrae; 1 millimeter on my C1 vertebrae; and numerous lesions scattered on both sides of my brain. In 2006, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Thousands of veterans could share similar stories. Recent studies confirm that combat veterans have an increased risk of developing MS. More than 28,000 veterans with MS are currently receiving VA care.

Congress currently is looking at a Defense appropriation that would provide $15 million for MS research through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, administered by the Department of Defense.Read more about this issue.