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Jewish Veterans Leader Tells Clinton U.S. Must Find Cause of Gulf Illness

The head of a Jewish veterans group has told President Clinton that the government must work to find the cause of strange illnesses that have seriously disabled many veterans of the Persian Gulf War.

“The American government must acknowledge and seriously commit in working to find a solution to what is known as the ‘Persian Gulf War Syndrome,’ ” Edward Blatt, the national commander of Jewish War Veterans, said Thursday at a Veterans Day breakfast held at the White House.

“The federal government must not ignore the fact that our troops were sickened by Iraqi chemical and/or biological agents,” Blatt said.

Sources estimate that several thousand American troops have complained of symptoms including lethargy, confusion and skin rashes since returning from the war.

While a growing number of veterans attribute the syndrome to possible exposure to chemical weapons, the government has refused to blame the illness on any specific source.

“We believe that if Persian Gulf veterans show any symptoms” of the syndrome, “then they should be treated with no questions asked,” said Michelle Spivak Kelley, national director of communications for the Jewish War Veterans.

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