Observing the third annual Gulf War Illness Recognition Day in Wisconsin. 

Anthony Hardie, Executive Assistant with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, reminds us the Badger State was the first in the nation to make such a designation.

"The day is designated in recognition of those who still suffer from post-deployment health issues which today we know are about 175,000 of the 697,000 total who served."

About 10,400 Wisconsinites served in the 1991 war. Hardie says there has been quite a lot of progress over the past few years in the area of Gulf War illness.

"Among the progress since the beginning of the Gulf War first was recognition that there was in fact ... that the health conditions of Gulf War veterans were real."

Despite years of skepticism, Hardie says by the mid-1990s it was very clear that there was a real problem; a large problem. He says about 1/4th of all Gulf War veterans are on VA disability rules.

"Today we know that there are about 175,000 Gulf War veterans who have significant health issues related to their service in the Gulf. That's out of a total of about 700,000, so a very large percentage of those who served."

Hardie encourages Gulf War veterans and their families to attend the second Gulf War Illness Conference, taking place at the state Veterans Museum from noon to 5:00 pm.

"For Gulf War veterans who are able to come to the conference and Gulf War families of veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, I think that there'll be an awful lot of information presented that will be of great interest and of great use."

The nation's leading expert on Gulf War veterans undiagnosed illness claims -- Steve Smithson -- will speak, as will a couple of local doctors who are looking for Gulf War veterans to participate in their current research study on gulf war veterans and pain.