No single therapy for veterans' chronic illness, but the suffering is real, IOM says
That's another part of the VA's job, the IOM panel said — to test treatments and figure out what works in well-designed studies.
It’s a “hard thing” to watch so many veterans suffer from CMI and sometimes feel doubted, said Dr. Gavin West, a physician at the Salt Lake VA who treats many of them. “So it’s really neat to see the IOM come out and validate this.” He predicted the report would help veterans. “I think a lot of good is going to come out of this.”
As for whether some of the soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have CMI, “that’s the million-dollar question. It may very well be true, but I’m not sure personally.” He said the Salt Lake VA has been among those doing studies on that and related topics.
"One of the thing we think is extremely important is to evaluate what the VA already has in place for treatment of veterans that return from a Gulf war," said Rosof. "Evaluate them, get good data, see if it's working and, what's more, make it available and understood. Make the program available and understood to the veterans, the physicians, the teams of people who take care of these patients. See from the evaluation and data what works and doesn't work and go from there."
It also called upon the VA to have a "CMI champion" at each of its centers that would coordinate care and provide information and advice about how best to serve CMI-afflicted veterans.
"We think they deserve the best of care for what they have given," said Rosof of veteran service.
"You also have to recognize that the (VA health system) faces extraordinary challenges in caring for the populations of veterans who have CMI. We believe it is possible to meet those challenges, with adequate clinician support, organization and preparation of care teams that fit their needs better. I think it's all doable and I think they believe they are on the pathway to accomplish that."
The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
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