The British Legion: Gulf War Illnesses Campaign


Twenty-five years after the start of the First Gulf War, the Legion launched a new campaign to focus on veterans with 'Gulf War illnesses'.
On 17 January 1991, combat operations commenced in the First Gulf War, which saw 53,462 Service personnel deployed to the Persian Gulf region in Operation Granby.
Shortly after the conflict ended, reports started to emerge from the United States of clusters of unusual illnesses occurring amongst Gulf War veterans. Similar reports of ill health among UK Service personnel emerged in 1993, and among other coalition forces, including those from Denmark, Canada and Australia. In all these cases, previously fit veterans had developed unusual diseases, illnesses and symptoms.
Whilst all of these symptoms already occurred within the Armed Forces and the population more widely, such as headaches and nausea, what remains unusual about ill Gulf War veterans is that they report more of these symptoms than expected, and at a greater intensity. They are also more likely to have chronic fatigue, cognitive problems, reduced coordination, hypertension, skin conditions, and PTSD.
Our recent Freedom of Information request revealed that 1,300 Gulf War veterans currently claim a War Pension for conditions connected to their Service in the Gulf. Yet research suggests that as many as 33,000 UK Gulf War veterans could be living with Gulf War illnesses. It is  therefore disappointing that there has been little meaningful research regarding best practice to alleviate some of the associated symptoms.


We believe it is important that Gulf War veterans who have developed illnesses as a result of their Service should be properly supported and that there should be improved awareness of the specific health needs of this particular group of veterans.
We call on the Government to:
  • invest in research that will improve recovery outcomes for this particular group, and
  • set up formal communication channels to convey the results of US research developments to Gulf War veterans living here in the UK.
We are delighted to be supported in this campaign by the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association, and invite all Legion supporters to joins us in raising awareness of this campaign.
Read Ian's story to find out more about why we're campaigning on Gulf War illnesses.