The Honorable John P. Murtha
Chairman, Subcommittee on Defense
House Appropriations Committee
H-149 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Murtha:
Congratulations on final passage of the Department of Defense Appropriations bill. While your subcommittee produced a Defense bill that is impressive in its entirety, we had hoped that funding for multiple sclerosis (MS) research would be included.
We are pleased to hear that you have committed to work to include funding for MS research in the bill as it moves through the conference committee process. Your efforts to include at least $10 million for MS research within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) will mean a great deal to our nation's soldiers whose lives have been adversely affected by this debilitating disease.
As you know, research at the CDMRP could help further investigate a potential link between military service and the incidence of MS. Preliminary evidence suggests that Gulf War veterans could have an increased risk of developing MS.
- A study in the Annals of Neurology 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.
- An epidemiologic study found an unexpected, two-fold increase in MS between 1993 and 2000 among residents of Kuwait, which suggests a potential environmental trigger for MS.
- Staff at the VA's MS Center of Excellence in Baltimore, MD, has noted the need to further study the increased incidence of MS among Gulf War veterans in particular.
- A 2004 report, entitled "Scientific Progress in Understanding Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses: Report and Recommendations," from a study group commissioned by the VA suggests more research must be done on the potential link between MS and combat service.
- Approximately 25,000 veterans who are being treated at the VA have a diagnosis of MS; 5,345 of these veterans' illnesses have been deemed "service-connected", as noted above. The VA currently is funding two MS Centers of Excellence to provide clinical care and education for these veterans, but now physicians at these institutions are seeking funding to explore a potential link between MS and combat service to help identify a possible environmental trigger and better treat our veterans living with MS.
The Department of Defense has an obligation to fund MS research related to service during the Gulf War. We urge you to include at least $10 million in the Department of Defense Appropriations Conference Report. Thank you for your tremendous efforts on this important issue.
This letter requests funding for multiple sclerosis research in fiscal year 2008 and the entity to receive funding for this program is the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, located at 1077 Patchel Street, Fort Detrick, MD 21702-5024. The funding would be used with the primary objective of identifying disease triggers, diagnostic markers, and treatments for MS to benefit the increasing number of military personnel being diagnosed with MS. We, collectively and individually, do not have a financial interest in this request, and neither do any of our spouses.