Some veterans who served in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield in the early 1990s or in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003 to the present may develop a cluster of unexplained, multi-symptom illnesses sometimes referred to as Gulf War Syndrome. These veterans are entitled to a free registry examination to identify any conditions that may have been caused by their military service, and to help the VA determine which illnesses or conditions are common among Gulf War veterans.

Public Law 103-446 allows the VA to pay compensation to Gulf War veterans with certain chronic disabilities resulting from undiagnosed illnesses that appeared during active duty in the Gulf War or within a specified time period after Gulf War service, which led to a degree of disability of 10 percent or more. In 2001, Public Law 107-103 expanded the definition of "qualifying chronic disability" to include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome.

The following symptoms are sometimes associated with Gulf War illnesses. However, these symptoms are also associated with many other medical conditions that may or may not be related to military service. If you have any of the following symptoms and served in Iraq or elsewhere in the Persian Gulf, you may consider contacting the VA to find out if a registry examination is appropriate.

  • Fatigue
  • Skin disorders
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Neuropsychological symptoms
  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Cardiovascular symptoms
  • Abnormal weight loss
  • Menstrual disorders

Veterans who want more information about the Gulf War Registry or who are experiencing the symptoms listed above can schedule an examination or call the VA Gulf War Veterans Information Helpline toll-free at 1-800-PGW-VETS. Veterans can also obtain more information about the registry at any VA medical center.