In December 2012, Dr. Steven Coughlin quit his job as a VA epidemiologist in disgust with his supervisors and VA policies that hurt veterans. He is working as a professor now. He testified before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs on 3/13/13. The hearing topic was “Gulf War: What Kind of Care are Veterans Receiving 20-years Later.”
The hearing webcast links are here but the first one isn’t working right.
Update: The hearing was delayed and starts in the first video about 1 hour & 28 minutes into the video! So click forward until about that time.
Excerpts from U. S. A. Today
“…If the studies produce results that do not support the office of public health’s unwritten policy, they do not release them,” “There was no one to present the opposing side – that it’s neurological,” Coughlin said. “Science is self-correcting, but if people don’t publish data that doesn’t support an opposing hypothesis, then it’s a huge problem.”
From The Hartford Courant:
“In his testimony, Coughlin, now an adjunct professor of epidemiology at Emory University, claimed:
• His supervisor told him not to look at data on hospitalizations and doctors’ visits for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan when studying the relationship of their health problems to exposure to burn pits and other inhalation hazards.
•VA officials at first refused to set up a system to offer intervention for veterans who told surveyors that they had suicidal feelings.
• VA officials arranged for five speakers to brief the medical panel studying Gulf War illnesses with views that Gulf War syndrome is psychiatric “although science long ago discredited that position,” Coughlin said.
•When Coughlin tried to make changes recommended by experts to a study of Gulf War veterans, his supervisors killed the idea by falsely claiming it would cost $1 million to do so, he said.
•VA needs a better system for safeguarding study data and making it more widely available to researchers. One database of Gulf War veterans’ family members that was mandated by Congress was lost forever by a computer in Texas, he said.